Student art spotlights a caring heart as the best medicine a healthcare professional can give

Keva Fawkes works on one of the 150 ceramic IV bags.
Keva Fawkes works on one of the 150 ceramic IV bags.

What happens when you combine the creativity of art students with the compassion of nursing students? At Mount Mercy University, you find a wall covered in 150 ceramic IV bags that proudly display how an education steeped in Mercy Values equips nursing students for a lifetime of compassionate care.

Senior art majors Keva Fawkes, Danielle Dye and Rebecca Redmond took on the task of designing artwork for a conference room in Donnelly, where faculty members often meet with perspective nursing students.

“The installation helps to provide a sense of creativity and collaboration between university departments for visitors to our nursing program, since it’s often the room that is used to meet with prospective students,” said Andy Casto, assistant professor of art.

The project was part of the Advanced Ceramics course, and three students were involved from the beginning. The art majors evaluated the room space in Donnelly 223 and met with nursing faculty along with Casto to devise a plan for an artful display that would embrace and showcase compassionate care. The group decided to honor the service of nursing by creating IV bags, and those ceramic IV bags were then designed to display Mercy Values – hospitality, compassion, service, gratitude, lifelong learning, commitment, justice, pursuit – where medication names would traditionally be listed.

Keva poses with the finished product, which has been hung in Donnelly 223.

Casto explained that actual IV bags were cast in plaster to make molds and then reproduced in clay, creating a sculpture that looks very similar to the original IV bags.

Fawkes said a lot of work went into the project, from creating conceptual ideas to critiquing those ideas to generate the best possible authentic final product. But similar to most great things, failing preceded success.

“A lot of incredibly interesting things happened in the kilns during firings,” Fawkes said. “Sometimes serendipitous happenings, other times questionable results.”

Fawkes explained that the teamwork involved is what made the art unique.

“I learned that working with others creates a springboard of ideas that culminate to create a really great final product that may not have been executed similarly had it been just one person,” Fawkes said. “Also, working with a team—Rebecca and Danielle—always serves as an opportunity to learn something new.”

Casto said he hopes the grid-like installation will show the type of creative and collaborative product that departments can accomplish when working together. The project has come to prove that when the stunning talents of art students are used to honor the amazing talents of nursing students, the end result can be not only breathtaking but also inspirational.


Written by Amanda Mayotte ’15