Hartwick's present a light in a tunnel at Fox Hospital
By Laura Alys Ward
Staff Writer - The Daily Star
ONEONTA — Employees and residents strolling through a main corridor at A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital may notice that something has changed.
A colorful mural now graces the tunnel that connects the main hospital building to the nursing home, replacing what was only weeks ago a monochromatic stretch.
"It's much more therapeutic than the blank blue-gray walls," said Maggie Barnes, the hospitals' director of community affairs. "Now it has such spirit and personality."
The mural was a present from Hartwick College in honor of the hospital's 100th birthday last year.
Cynthia Marsh, an Oneonta artist and muralist, was selected by Hartwick officials to complete the task of beautifying the space.
Marsh, Hartwick student volunteers Amanda Nartiff and Paulina Melechkina and '00 Hartwick alumna Michelle Cook painted the mural in just two weeks.
The work consists of seven identical sections depicting a sky with clouds and is flanked by columns. The columns were painted using a "trompe l'oeil" (trick of the eye) technique, which gives them a three-dimensional look, Marsh said. The white clouds and blue sky were painted in an impressionistic fashion, Marsh said.
"It's like you're walking past seven windows," she said.
Marsh, Cook, and Barnes said the mural has elicited many positive remarks from patients, nursing home residents, hospital employees and visitors, even during the early stages of its creation.
"People were so incredibly excited about it," said Marsh.
Marsh, Cook and the students worked five days a week for two weeks on the project, clocking in about six hours per day.
"It was great, because people walking by said it made their day," Cook said. "That made it all worth it."
"It was a good feeling that doing something like this can have such an effect on someone's daily life," she said. "The people at the hospital seemed genuinely happy to have something — anything — in the tunnel."
Nursing home residents frequently travel through the tunnel to reach the cafeteria or to pick up a newspaper, she said.
Cook, who has bachelor's degrees in studio art and art history, said she was happy to volunteer for the project.
"It was great fun," she said. "It was just as exciting for us as it was for the patients."
Marsh said Cook and freshmen Amanda Nartiff and Paulina Melechkina were a pleasure to work with, and very enthusiastic.
Last week, Hartwick College President Richard Detweiler officially presented the mural to A.O. Fox Hospital President John Remillard.
The mural was paid for through a grant from the college's Foreman Institute of Creative and Performing Arts.
Barnes and Marsh said this is just "phase one" in a project to transform the tunnel into a more aesthetically pleasing area.
While plans are not yet official, Barnes said, more may be added to the existing mural in the future.
"We're conceptualizing," she said.