The message is clear at the Mary Bird Perkins — Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center: Art can heal the spirit.

That's why there are more than 40 pieces of fine art installed throughout the center.

It's part of the center's Healing Arts Program, and the two newest pieces were unveiled recently, each offering a healing perspective through Louisiana's live oaks.

"These two pieces are part of a larger picture that began with our 2015 renovation of the center," said Linda Lee, vice president of the cancer center. "It was our intention to develop a healing arts program geared toward presenting parts of nature and human elements that humans respond to."

The center hired consultants to aid in selecting art that invokes peaceful and calming feelings in the patients, in their families and also in the physicians.

"We know now with science that there is a direct connection between the mind and body in healing," Lee said. "If you're looking at something that is aesthetically pleasing, then the body will be calm."

The Washington, D.C., nonprofit Arts & Health Alliance reported in 2009 that more than 40 percent of health care facilities had arts programs, including music performances, healing gardens and art classes. Permanent, public art displays were the most prevalent, the report said.

"It's something everyone sees," Lee said, "and it has a calming effect on them." 

And what could be more calming than lying beneath a live oak and looking up into its canopy of branches?

Brad Bourgoyne pictured it when sculpting "Canopy of Peace."

Ann Connelly Fine Art was the project consultant, choosing Bourgoyne for the job and coordinating the project, inspired from research by Francinne Lawrence, the center's director of Survivorship. 

"They brought me the concept," the Baton Rouge artist said. "I took photos looking up in an oak canopy and combined them when I was doing the drawings."

Bourgoyne created his drawings digitally with black and white ink, which resembled calligraphy. Next, he made a polymer sculpture from the drawings from a 3D printer.

This approach created branches of polished and anodized aluminum layered with three-dimensional polymer. Artist James Vella's flowers of hand-blown glass were added.

"Canopy of Peace," which can be found on the cancer center's second floor, was donated to the cancer center by Candace and Bob Pearson in honor of daughter Carrie Duffy, who conquered leukemia, and great-niece Morgan Jones who lost her cancer battle.

A pink bow, Morgan Jones' favorite accessory, is attached to one of the branches in her memory.

The second piece, "Journey to Wellness," can be found on the first floor. It was created by Derick Ostrenko, associate professor of digital art at LSU. This project also was inspired by Lawrence's research and coordinated by Ann Connelly Fine Art.

And it also looks at wellness through a live oak but in a different way.

"Journey to Wellness" is a visual narrative created on a transparent screen.

"It shows a video, but you can also see through it," Ostrenko said. "It's like a window — a video on a window with LED tiles behind it. They're like an undulating sculptural facade that creates a relief behind the screen."

The screen serves as a window to another world, where viewers follow the journey of a tree seedling as it's carefully transported in an origami boat through various environments from a starry sky and different phases of sunlight, on its way to be planted, nurtured and ultimately growing into a mature oak in the bayou.

The tree, like a patient navigating the healing process, can only grow with support from its surroundings

"Journey to Wellness" was donated by Janice and J.W. “Billy” Guitreau. Ostrenko was aided by his students Jake Hamill and Sarah Ferguson.

"Shiyu Ouyeung, a visiting scholar studying with me from Wuhan University of Technology in China, was primarily responsible for the animation," Ostrekno said. "This was a group project, and it's something that will grow and change in time. It's already changing — in the morning it has morning colors, and at night it has night tones."

Lee said the hospital will continue adding to its collection.

"We still have spaces to fill, and it's our intention to build on these healing arts," she said.


Follow Robin Miller on Twitter, @rmillerbr.