'Meaning and Beauty'

Botanical Panels Transform Mammography Center Waiting Area

Highlighted against a bank of windows in Roswell Park’s Mammography Center, orange-tinted coneflowers reach for the sun. Sprigs of oregano, tinted in reds and pinks, lean this way and that, the veins of the leaves creating the illusion of rivers on a landscape. A deep-purple passionflower, its petals opened wide, reveals a mass of delicate tendrils at its center.

All three plants have special significance in this setting. Coneflower (Echinacea) and passionflower (Passiflora), both native to North America, were used as traditional medicines by some Native American tribes, while the ancient Greeks believed in the healing properties of oregano (Origanum vulgare), native to the Mediterranean region.

Artist Joan Linder, who created the pen-and-ink drawings for the window panels, selected her subjects carefully. “I thought they could be both beautiful and reassuring,” she says. “I imagine it’s not much fun sitting in the waiting room, and I hope this will be uplifting.”

'We Know That Art Is Healing'

That hope is shared by Elaine Jarzynka, Chair of Art Acquisition, and the other members of the Roswell Park Alliance Art Committee — all volunteers — who work with Western New York’s most prominent artists to transform clinical areas into warm, inviting spaces. “We know that art is healing,” says Jarzynka, who is both a commercial designer and graphic designer. “Patients and their families need some sort of distraction while they’re waiting. We feel it’s so important to provide that for them.”

Jarzynka recalls that before the Mammography Center was finished, “We did a walk-through of the space and recognized that there was no wall space in the waiting area — just a lot of windows.” With no wall space to display artwork, she and the rest of the committee began to think of ways to use the windows instead.

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Bob Scalise, Deputy Director of the University at Buffalo (U.B.) Art Galleries, suggested they look at the works of Joan Linder, Chair of U.B.’s Department of Art. Linder — whose art has been exhibited in galleries across the U.S. and in several countries — had previously designed a series of laminated glass windows featuring native plants of Bensonhurst, New York, for installation in a Brooklyn subway station. It wasn’t hard for the Roswell Park Alliance Art Committee to envision something similar for the Mammography Center.

They faced several challenges in transferring the drawings to the acrylic panels, which are affixed in front of the windows. Linder’s original drawings were so large that they wouldn’t fit in a scanner, Jarzynka explains, so a photographer had to take very-high-resolution photos of individual sections of each one. A team from DKM Ad Art then merged the photos to reproduce the full drawings so they could be enlarged on the acrylic without losing the sharp detail.

The images are printed on both the front and back of the acrylic panels. That means that people relaxing on the MMMB Patient Terrace outside the windows can enjoy them, too. “At nighttime, when the lights are on inside, they actually glow,” says Jarzynka. “They’re beautiful.”

She says the botanical drawings make the waiting area “a little softer for the patients. Each one of the plants has both meaning and beauty.”

The botanical window panels were made possible by a generous donation from Helen Cappuccino, MD, of Roswell Park’s Breast Surgery Division, and her husband, Andrew Cappuccino, MD, of Buffalo Spine Surgery, and the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation Quality of Life Fund.

The Mammography Center is located on the second floor of the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center.