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  • Dale Chihuly visits Mary Bridge to see Hilltop Artists glass work

    by Cole Cosgrove

    Dale Chihuly, the world-renowned glass artist and Tacoma native, visited MultiCare Mary Bridge Children's Hospital on Wednesday to admire a new glass art installation created by students in the Hilltop Artists program.

    "Beautiful," Chihuly said. "Nice work."

    Chihuly toured two new skybridges with floor-to-ceiling windows filled with more than 1,300 hand-blown glass floats created and installed by Hilltop Artists

    Chihuly helped establish the Hilltop Artists program in 1994. 

    Chihuly's tour of the hospital was led by Kathy Smith, RN, Senior Vice President of Clinical Support & Integration, and Mady Murrey, RN, Chief Operating Officer of Mary Bridge. They were joined by Hilltop Artists Executive Director Kit Evans, and Hilltop Artists staff members Greg Piercy, Jessica Hogan and Jason Mouer, as well as Mary Bridge PICU Nurse Manager Ronn Goodnough, RN, and Clinical Director Jodi Gragg, RN. 

    A plaque next to the glass art, titled "Chiya," is inscribed with the message, "Can you find the sea creatures hidden within the glass floats? Channeling the essence of the Puget Sound, this glass float bridge is intended to inspire 'chiya,' the Japanese word for healing."

    Chihuly at MB 2

    Thanks to a community partnership between MultiCare and Hilltop Artists, the glass floats -- in bubbles of sea-foam green and bright pops of salmon-roe orange -- were created by young artists as a gift to the young patients who will receive care in two new pediatric inpatient floors at Mary Bridge.

    Chihuly was born at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital in 1941. A bystander commented that the hospital had changed a lot since then.

    "I suppose it has," Chihuly said with a smile.

    Chihuly at MB 0

    Chihuly at MB 1

    Expanding care for women and children

    The not-for-profit MultiCare Health System is remodeling and updating the areas serving women, newborns and children at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital and Tacoma General Hospital. Construction began in 2012 and will add more Mary Bridge Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) beds, a new Mary Bridge Medical Surgical Unit, a renovated Tacoma General Family Birth Center and an improved Tacoma General Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

    When the final phase of the project is completed in 2015, the project will add 133,919 square feet of new space and 144,835 square feet of renovated space.

    When designing new additions or facilities, MultiCare allocates a portion of project budgets for exterior and interior public art elements. For this project, MultiCare commissioned original works by local and regional Northwest artists to enhance these facilities for the enjoyment of all.

    About Hilltop Artists

    Hilltop Artists was established in 1994 with the help of celebrated glass artist Dale Chihuly. Hilltop Artists is a nonprofit glass arts program that provides classes and individualized instruction for over 500 students each year, according to the program's website. Hilltop Artists offers a unique model for using art as a means for violence prevention and intervention with youth, and provides youths ages 11-20 with hot glass instruction, related arts training, and adult mentors focusing on increasing students’ academic and interpersonal success.

    Previous stories

    Hilltop Artists Blog: MultiCare's collaboration with Hilltop Artists

    MultiCare Vitals: Students with Hilltop Artists install colorful glass floats at Mary Bridge

    Posted on May 22, 2013 in Tacoma