Barbara Porter is Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, Mayo Medical School.
"Wow, Mommy, look at the big yellow and blue balloons," came a small but discernable voice from the top of the main floor landing of the Gonda Lobby. I was walking by, at a slow pace, while checking my calendar before heading to my next meeting.
Balloons in the Gonda building--oh, no! That will sure bring out a team from facilities to retrieve the offending orbs and restore our magnificent lobby back to its usual glory. As I stopped to read the fine print on my Blackberry to make sure I was headed in the right direction for my meeting, I heard a more substantial, but nonetheless kind and gentle voice state, "Yes, Maggie, those are some really big and shiny balloons, aren't they pretty?"
It was then I realized that the balloons in question were in fact pieces of the Chihuly Chandelier that hangs majestically above the atrium in the Gonda Building.
I have always marveled at the art that adorns every corner of our Mayo Clinic campus. I have enjoyed seeing the Play, Dance and Imagine kinetic sculpture with all of its brilliant colors and changing alignment as I pass through the Mayo subway on my way to my office each winter morning. Seeing the Boy on the Dolphin in the spring as he so gleefully plays, always makes me smile on those precious spring days when I can come from the underground and enjoy the art on in our outdoor spaces.
It has been great fun sharing the art with visiting students who are quite stunned that the art is so accessible and available to see and in many cases to touch. Most of all, I have enjoyed sharing the art with family members who have been our patients, and who find the Calder mobiles and the Andy Warhols entertaining and I might add, just a bit distracting as they traverse throughout our campus making their way from appointment to appointment.
Escapism, distraction, attraction, whatever, the big yellow balloons, the dancing ballerinas, the crusty cowboys--the Mayo brothers with all their vision and wisdom called this one just right! They insisted that art adorn our public spaces as an aid in the healing process. It is wonderful to think that as patients make their way to appointments, diagnostic procedures and waiting and hotel rooms throughout the campus, in some ways, big, and in some ways small, they are already beginning to feel better.
"Mommy, can we catch one of the balloons?" The mother explained that that the balloons stay up on the ceiling all the time. At this point, I turned to look at the little girl. She was in a diminutive sized wheelchair and had no hair, but her eyes were bright and wide. "The balloons will stay there so that another little girl can see them honey."
For all the boys and girls, both little and not so little, we are grateful for the beauty and the healing power of the art that makes this place so special.