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November 30, 2017

University Hospitals project gives ID major a chance to shine

University Hospitals project gives ID major a chance to shine

Senior Jack McCarley at Rainbow Babies And Children's Hospital. Photo by Robert Muller/CIA

At his summer internship, Industrial Design major Jack McCarley blended his love for fine art and design.

By Karen Sandstrom

If you were a child being wheeled toward an operating room, how would you feel? What might make you more nervous? What might help?

Those questions were among elements that Industrial Design major Jack McCarley ’18 considered during his summer internship at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. McCarley worked for curator Tom Huck, who directs the hospital’s extensive collection of artworks and manages their placement in UH facilities and departments across Northeast Ohio.

The surgical corridor in the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital presented a challenge. “The whole idea was to make it playful and fun so [patients] feel calm in a situation where they might be apprehensive,” Huck says.

In this specific corridor, hanging wall art is not permitted. The hallway needed to remain clear so that equipment and beds can be moved quickly. That left the walls themselves.

“Originally, we had proposed a Sol Lewitt wall drawing to bring fine art into the space,” McCarley says. “Then Tom said, why don’t you come up with something? As an ID major, I also do a lot of fine art in my spare time. I looked at the space and used the simple design process I learned at CIA.”

The result is a mixture of geometric blocks in blue, yellow and teal picked up from floor tiles. The angles of the blocking subtly point the way forward. Smaller shapes suggest butterflies floating through the space without looking too literal or juvenile and dually function as way-finding elements; as Huck points out, pediatric patients might be 4 or 14 and beyond.

As with everything the hospital’s art department does, the patients’ and families’ points of view were a key consideration. “There’s so much criteria to be sensitive to other than just hanging paintings on the wall,” Huck says.

McCarley, who is from Greenville, South Carolina, chose CIA because he knew he wanted to study industrial design. These days, he’s working on his thesis project: how to make simulated car racing games more practical and accessible.

He loved the opportunity that Huck gave him to bring his fine art into play.

“I’ve been painting abstract expressionist paintings since high school, and over the years have shown work. But it was always a personal exploration,” McCarley says. “I never thought I could mix it with industrial design. CIA has really taught me that the design process is just that — a design process, and that can be applied to fine art, applied commercially, and really in any sort of matter. It has taught me to think of design holistically, and not to build barriers between fine art and product design.”

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