Art of Healing
In 1914, Indiana’s leading artists embarked on an extraordinary project to celebrate the opening of new wings at Wishard Memorial Hospital (then City Hospital). These prominent Hoosier artists painted over a quarter mile of murals, the intent of which was to decorate the new building and most importantly, lift the spirits of patients.
The significance of the project is measured by the contributing artists and the scale of their work. Hoosier artist William Forsythe directed the mural project, which also included J. Ottis Adams, Wayman Adams, Martinus Anderson, Simon Baus, Francis M. Brown, Jay H. Connaway, Carl C. Graf, Helene Hibben, Walter Hixon Isnogle, Emma B. King, Dorothy Morlan, William Edouard Scott, Otto Stark, T.C. Steele and Clifton Wheeler.
Demonstrating their support for the mural project, artists agreed to work for $75 per month and even slept and ate at the hospital while they painted these expensive works. Project Director William Forsythe chose the rooms and hallways for their work, and mandated soothing scenes and color tones. In total, the artists completed three dozen murals and more than twenty canvas paintings.
Over the years, these once glorious works have fallen into a state of disrepair. The Wishard Foundation Board understood and acknowledged the historical and cultural importance of restoring the collection, and in 2002, led by Anne Emison Wishard, embarked on the Art of Healing Mural Restoration Project. And, perhaps most closely aligned with the Foundation’s mission, they hoped the project would open new pathways to the Indianapolis philanthropic community, thereby touching the lives of those most in need.
Acting in the same spirit of the project’s original intent, the Board began the campaign to restore the collection by sharing its existence with art patrons while at the same time educating them on the importance of Wishard Health Services to the well-being and vitality of Indianapolis. The Wishard Foundation became the Eskenazi Health Foundation in 2011 after Sidney and Lois Esknenazi of Indianapolis contributed a record $40 million gift to for new facilities. The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital will open in December 2013 to replace the current Wishard facilities, and Wishard Health Services will become Eskenazi Health in 2014.