Artwork Plays Important Role in the Process of Healing at Saint Agnes Hospital


Patients and visitors who come to Saint Agnes Hospital can tell almost immediately that something is very different, in comparison to other hospitals or healthcare organizations they may have been to in the past. The presence of artwork has a lot to do with it. Through the hospital's ongoing commitment to creating a peaceful and calming environment for healing, several local artists have found a new home for some of their most prized creations.

With the support of Bonnie Phipps, President and CEO, Sister Ellen LaCapria, Vice President for Mission Integration at Saint Agnes, has played an instrumental role in the incorporation of artwork throughout the hospital's hallways, waiting and lobby areas and entrances. As a board-certified art therapist, she believes that creating an environment of beauty can go a long way in helping each patient on their personal journey toward health.

"Artwork provides comfort," said Sister Ellen, whose own artwork appears in various locations throughout the hospital. "We are working hard to create a calming atmosphere and better space for our patients to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually."

The hospital has forged relationships with a handful of local artists, many of whom are internationally-known, who have created pieces for positioning both inside and outside of the hospital, with the organization's mission, vision and values in mind as guiding principles. Mary Ann Mears' piece, Spun Grace, was created to convey a very clear statement to patients and visitors who make their way through the hospital's Main Lobby area.

"The sweeping and intertwining curves of Spun Grace express that the hospital values people and that each person will be cared for as an individual," said Mears, whose artwork appears in other venues across Baltimore and Washington D.C. "Public art is an important part of people's lives and is something that is often encountered every day. It is a great example of why I do what I do."

Saint Agnes hired local artist David Hess, whose large format art is known throughout Maryland and can be seen at BWI Airport, to create a piece from actual I-beams, signed at a special event in 2009 by hospital associates, physicians, board members, founders and the Daughters of Charity. The beams commemorated the groundbreaking of the hospital's new Main Lobby and South Tower. The four vertically-oriented structures were designed to mimic the city's skyline while also representing Saint Agnes' rich foundation and history.

"Most people who are in the hospital as a patient or visitor are absorbed in the problem they are facing, but the presence of artwork can  transport you away, even if only for a moment," said Hess, an artist for the past 26 years. "It's humbling to have my work at Saint Agnes in a way that celebrates the staff that is working hard to help others each day."

Aside from creating a visually-appealing environment for the delivery of care, Sister Ellen says that the hospital's commitment to incorporating artwork into and outside of its buildings gives all visitors a good sense of what to expect from this highly respected hospital. Maintaining the grounds and positioning warm and welcoming artwork in places that will be naturally encountered is the key.

"By taking care of our buildings, we are showing people that we will take care of them too," said Sister Ellen. "We are using our own environment to make positive things happen each and every day."

For further information about Saint Agnes Hospital and its comprehensive scope of healthcare services, visit

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