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Artist unveils piece to be featured in new Nashville hospital tower

Posted at 8:19 PM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-13 11:43:44-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A major hospital in Nashville is just about to open a new tower. Staff members said a lot of effort is being put into what you see as you walk through the doors. One of those things you'll see is the work by a prominent local artist.

"I gather, I collect and then I assemble," said artist Wayne Brezinka. "It's a storytelling process that has a lot of depth."

The portraits by Brezinka are built out of found items that help tell a person's story. His Fred Rogers portrait is made from things like crayons and cassette tapes. His portrait of Bruce Springsteen has concert tickets and newspaper clippings.

"Ben Franklin has wires in his hair," Brezinka continued, referring to another portrait. "There are pieces of money, pages of books and things like that. I'm fascinated by success, by human beings in general."

After so many portraits, Brezinka's been given a new challenge. Next month, Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital Midtown will open a new tower.

"This is the Surgery and Critical Care Tower and Spine Institute," said Dan Thompson, vice president of the Ascension Saint Thomas Foundation. "We'll be welcoming patients here when they're having spinal surgery and some of the most critical care."

With that, the idea is to make the new tower feel warm and welcoming with pieces of Nashville's story.

"This wood is from the fallen trees from the tornadoes in East Nashville a couple of years ago," Thompson said.

Wayne Brezinka art

The tower will also feature artwork by local artists like Brezinka. As someone who often tells stories through portraits, what would Brezinka do to tell the story of a place? He took items from the hospital archive and created a picture of a human silhouette surrounded by things from the hospital's history.

"I wanted every viewer to see themselves in it," Brezinka said. "I wanted them to experience their own feeling, their own emotion, whatever reason they're in this facility, whether it's to celebrate or somebody's ill and needs surgery or whatever it may be."

"Here's an original nursing cap," he continued, showing some of the items. "These [nurse's shoes] are from the 1950s, which I felt were very interesting. I was drawn to the handwritten notes that people wrote to their family members as they arrived in 1944. This is an image of the very first patient admitted to the hospital in the early 1900s. She gave birth to her daughter. "

"I hope people walk away feeling that it's a beautiful piece that they can find themselves within, and it opens their mind to the fact art is truly healing and can create this sense of peace and openness," Brezinka said.

The new tower will contain 66 pieces of art, three of which were commissioned by the hospital to reflect the work of their caregivers.