A new allure at the University Medical Center – Rizk Hospital in Ashrafieh is helping bring a positive spirit to patients and visitors.
Last week, 200 freshly painted canvases were hung throughout the hospital’s corridors, patient rooms and offices. The paintings were made using bright colors and creative designs to transform the sterile, bland hospital into an attractive, healing space for all.
“We believe the hospital is not just a place to remedy people. It’s also a place where the community can contribute socially, academically, artistically,” says Dr. Elie Badr, LAU assistant provost for Academic Programs and acting dean of the School of Architecture and Design, who was behind the idea of giving the hospital an artistic makeover with the help of LAU students in order to make it a more friendly space.
Led by this vision, Badr managed the project in close cooperation with Jordanian artist Khaldoun Daoud from the Rowaq Al-Balqa Gallery, in Jordan.
The paintings were all done by 10 LAU students, and a number of patients, staff members, nurses and other contributors, under Daoud’s supervision, within a time frame of just 10 days.
From September 15–24, Daoud led daylong workshops in the hospital for the team of fine arts and architecture students, teaching them the technique of speed painting to finish the enormous load of paintings in a short time frame while keeping quality in mind.
“Everything is perfect,” Daoud says, referring to the completed works.
Daoud brought his artistically talented family, including his sister Suha, and his three sons Fadi, Shadi and Loay to assist. The family spent a total of three weeks on the ambitious project including preparation and logistics, accepting no money for their time and efforts.
“The paintings are really meant to ease the patients,” says Layal Merhi, a third-year architecture student who contributed to the project.
“You feel like you’re giving back, like you’re doing something meaningful,” she adds.
During an exhibition and closing ceremony held at the hospital on September 25, around 200 people gathered to admire the showcased works. The ceremony was also an occasion for the students and others involved in the project to give speeches and describe their experiences.
The project, dubbed the “Balsam Workshop,” was named after Balsam Aoun, a young AUB student who spent three days at UMC – RH in June for a foot operation where Daoud, a close family friend, visited her.
“It was an honor to have the project named after me,” Aoun says.
“I know what a painting can do,” Aoun, herself a painter, adds. “You look at the painting and forget about everything else.”