Seyed Alavi completes new artwork for Harborview Medical Center
Finding your way – metaphorically and physically — through the modern healthcare system can be a challenge. Harborview, the only trauma center in a four state region, and the primary healthcare option for the indigent and mentally ill in our county, recognizes that challenge. Harborview is using its integrated public art program, managed by 4Culture, to reduce stress and to help patients, families and staff navigate the center’s campus.
The latest addition to a collection of artwork that has been growing since 1979 is Seyed Alavi’s Tree of Life. Like all public artists, Alavi was asked to propose a piece that conceptually and physically addresses the context of place. His solution replaces standard dropped ceiling panels with colorful, laminated glass that offers beauty and meaning and manages wayfinding. The glowing ceiling is visible from the Ninth and Eighth Avenue lobbies marking an important crossroad in the hospital’s main corridor system known as The Landing.
The artwork composition brings the color of sky and trees inside, but it is also a visual language – a code of sorts – derived from the sequence of amino acids found within the hemoglobin of red blood cells. If DNA sequencing is not your first language, the patterns are also reminiscent of geometric designs used in quilts, and their universal association with warmth, care and comfort. The wonders of science, the comforts of the natural world, and an inspirational marker on a journey through the hospital are unified in one memorable and beautiful moment.