Hospitals can be sterile, frightening environments for children—no matter how friendly the staff may be. To help alleviate the stress caused by imposing surroundings, the organization RxART partners with renowned artists to redecorate hospital spaces. In a recent collaboration, the renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami worked with RxArt to cover a PET/CT scan suite at Children's National Hospital in Washington, DC with his signature smiling flower designs. Thousands of young patients at the hospital will now be greeted with groovy, pop art blooms as they undergo lengthy scans.
The flowers layered over much of the hospital suite are one of Murakami's signature motifs, developed by the artist in the 1980s. The flowers are emblematic of the superflat art movement—a movement owing its name and pop-art ethos to Murakami. Superflat art builds on traditional flat Japanese compositions, such as woodblock prints of the Edo period. Murakami's fascination with post-war consumer culture has also led him to “flatten” the distinction between fine art, “low” art, and consumerism. In this multi-disciplinary creative spirit, the artist has collaborated with musicians and fashion designers to push the boundaries of fine art.
Murakami's new installation builds off his former works in a new setting. While the scared and squirming youngsters who visit the CT suite may not know they are in the presence of a prestigious artist's installation, they will surely appreciate the friendly flowers gazing down upon them. RxART's mission to beautify hospital spaces through artist collaborations depends on this notion—that art does not require background knowledge to appreciate and benefit from. Art can heal, and Murakami's new installation will brighten children's hospital visits for years to come.