Connecticut artist Vivika DeNegre recently completed two large art quilts for Smilow Cancer Hospital, a new facility at Yale-New Haven. This prestigious commission came about through DeNegre’s affiliation with the Shoreline Arts Trail and open studios event. She describes the commission process:
“I was contacted by the interior designer of the Smilow building who specializes in a process called ‘Evidence Based Design’. Her firm designs mainly hospital, clinic and doctors’ offices with the theory that the design of the building actually can affect the outcome of the patient.
…I was charged with making two large quilts that would be viewed mostly by the nurses' station and the families as they visited their loved ones. They were to be calming and evocative of the landscape of CT. I submitted three designs: Farmlands, a view of patchwork fields cut up by stone walls (detail of Farmlands, upper right), Marsh View, a view of the brackish estuaries in Autumn (full view of Marsh View, top), and Sound View, a view of sparkling water.
The first two were chosen, and a deadline of 5 weeks from the day of the signed contract was given. It took a week to get the fabric, elongate my design wall to hold an eight foot quilt, and prepare for the sewing marathon. Each quilt was made in two weeks, taking over 90 hours of piecing and quilting. I worked between 6 and 15 hours/day... They are quilted at the 1/4 inch, and I estimate I used between 1 and 1 1/2 miles of thread...”
Looking at the quality of workmanship in these landscapes, you would not have guessed the lightning pace in which they were done (detail of Marsh View, lower right). The time and effort put into it was a labor of love for DeNegre, who has seen family and friends battle this deadly disease. “My greatest wish is that no one I know will ever have to go into the Smilow ICU” she says, “and that eventually, centers like this will have to close because the disease has been beaten.”