Meaningful Artwork at KUMC Draws Inspiration From History

As part of the new Health Education Building, the University of Kansas Medical Center commissioned art pieces for the space, asking artists to draw inspiration from their Clendening History of Medicine Library. The library is one of the nation’s finest collections of rare, historical medical books, as well as an extensive collection of monographs and periodicals in the history of medicine, medical humanities and biomedical ethics. Six artists were selected for works in the building.
The ground level corridor on the southside of the building was an incredible opportunity for artwork, spanning a remarkable 125 feet. The hallway features Des Emplastres et Des Compresses, by artist Marcie Miller Gross. Marcie was inspired by the distinct, elegant forms of the compresses, plasters and bandages illustrated in Cours d’operations de chirurgie, a rare surgical manual found in the library. The shapes were informed by the specific types of incisions made by the surgeon and evoke the topography of the body. These elemental forms are familiar, abstract and poetic in their simplicity.
Reference: Dionis, Pierre. Cours d’operations de chirurgie: demonstrees au Jardin royal. Paris, Chez Laurent D’Houry, rue saint Severin, au St Esprit, vi-s-vis la rue Zacharie: 1707. Held at the Clendening History of Medicine Library, University of Kansas Medical Center.
Creating this series for the university held great meaning for Marcie. Her father received his medical degree from the university in 1948 and was a professor of surgery at KU until 1973. Marcie’s husband, Helix principal Bryan Gross, was the senior project architect on the building and spent three years on the Health Education Building.

Marcie’s work has been exhibited in institutions and galleries throughout the Midwest and internationally and is held in public and private collections. She has lived in Kansas City since receiving her Master of Fine Arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art and Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Kansas. Photography by E.G. Schempf.