Learning Center as Gallery Space

A P&S student organized a fine art exhibit, featuring works by faculty, staff, and students and displayed in the Teaching and Learning Center on Hammer Health Sciences Center’s lower level. The exhibit showcased 120 pieces from 40 artists during May and June 2010.

Nicholas Collacchio'11The show was organized the curated by Nicholas Colacchio’11 (right). Pieces ranged from pencil drawings to stone and metal sculptures, by artists who represent all walks of life at CUMC, including long-standing attending physicians, administrative staff, and students.

“Art was not part of my upbringing in Wyoming,” says Stephen Nicholas, MD, associate dean for admissions and professor of clinical pediatrics, whose photography and mixed media appeared in the exhibit. “When I was in college, I discovered the immense satisfaction of black and white photography and working in the darkroom, and photography as an artistic medium assumed a primary interest. I began collecting photography, modestly, and I seriously considered photojournalism as a career. Visiting art museums became a regular habit. Eventually, I began to dabble in other media: sketching with the aid of a camera lucida, drawing, and water colors. In the last few years, I’ve been using bright colors and circles to express non-representational metaphoric feelings or thoughts. Artistic interpretation and expression provide adjunctive roles in my quest to be a compassionate physician, effective teacher, and insightful researcher.”

Luis F. Cruz, a heavy cleaner in facilities who studied fashion illustration at the Pratt-Phoenix School of Design in New York, has several drawings in the exhibit. After graduation, he worked for several years as a window-designer for major department stores but gave up his artistic career nearly 25 years ago for a secure weekly pay check and health insurance to support his family. “I don’t regret it, but I can’t wait until my retirement comes so I can move to Clearwater Beach, Fla., where I will find myself a little corner on the sand and just draw,” Mr. Cruz says.

Mr. Colacchio showed several pieces he completed during and since college, including sculptures, drawings, photographs, stone carvings, and bronze castings. He also displayed two medical illustrations of hip and knee replacement hardware that he created in collaboration with William Macaulay, M.D., the Anne Youle Stein Professor of Clinical Orthopedic Surgery, for a research paper describing a technique for hip replacement.

“Much of my work has come directly from my interests and experiences in medicine. I’m interested in the human body and our relative experiences of health and illness,” says Mr. Colacchio, who worked as an emergency room technician during college. “It has been fun to exhibit my work in a medical center, where people share these interests.”

Mr. Colacchio majored in studio art at Middlebury College and has brought his love of art to P&S. “I’ve appreciated efforts here to create and showcase visual art – such as the Bard Hall art night – but I wanted to do a show that would be bigger and get better exposure,” he says. “As an artist, I felt a need to brighten TLC’s halls as well as give artists a way to show their work.”

Within an hour of sending an email to CUMC faculty, staff, and students to solicit submissions, Mr. Colacchio received replies from 50 artists. “It was exciting,” Mr. Colacchio says. “Clearly there is a huge need within the CUMC community for art, because we had more art than we had room to display.”

The exhibit opened on Saturday, May 1, and the response was gratifying. Mr. Colacchio says, “I received an email from a student I did not know who told me that the exhibit made the last few weeks before finals more tolerable for her and her friends. It has been so exciting to see how many artists there are at CUMC and how many people are creating in some capacity and want to share their work with the community.”

Plans are under way to make the art exhibit an annual tradition.

Bob De Bellis'58

Robert De Bellis'58, Doctor and Artist

Robert De Bellis’58 was photographed in front of some of his art work on display at the art show. The front pieces are wood carvings and a soap carving from the mid-1940s. The vase in the back is also his creation. Dr. De Bellis, associate clinical professor of medicine at P&S, said in an artist statement displayed at the show: “I was born into an extremely gifted artistic family. My father was a self-taught artist in oils, who made more money with his hobby than he did with his profession. His brother was an M.D. who was a recognized artist sculpting in clay and marble and who is exhibited in the Smithsonian. He was also the curator of the Selma Gundi Club. Two other brothers were commercial artists. I have enjoyed working with various media for my self-enjoyment, including soap as a child, charcoal, pastels, oils, wood, and clay. I have dabbled in wood carving, pottery, sculpting, and scale model building. I have had no training.”