Atlanta, GA,
15:44 PM

"Eclectic on Purpose"

The halls and walls of Shepherd Center are filled with an extensive collection of art, providing something for everybody.

When you walk through the halls of Shepherd Center and see the vast collection of art, you may not like everything. But chances are you will like something. And that’s the whole point.

“It’s eclectic on purpose,” says Shepherd Center Co-Founder Alana Shepherd, who has had a hand in almost every piece of art coming into the hospital, knowing where it is located and the story behind it.

Shepherd Center is filled with paintings, sculptures, murals, and photographs. Some have been on the walls or on display since the Shepherd Building opened in1982. Others have been added over the years. They are by famous artists and local artists. Most of the artwork has been donated – either by the artist or a collector. Some generous donors have commissioned works of art for Shepherd Center.

The art collection started as the vision of Alana Shepherd and Lindsey Hopkins, who was president of Shepherd Center in 1982 when the hospital moved to its current location on Peachtree Road. He and Alana oversaw the collection of art.

“He helped acquire the art, and he had a lot of good ideas,” Alana says. “We have built on that since we’ve started. Sometimes we go to the artists and ask, but mostly they come to us.”

Some of the first art on the walls was a collection of Audubon prints donated by Charles West, a collector of bird prints. With 103 pieces, it’s the biggest display at ShepherdCenter. There’s also a collection of folk art donated by well-known collector Bill Arnett and his brother. Jacque Rubel created two miniature rooms displayed inboxes adorning the walls. Artist and former Georgia First Lady, the late Betty Foy Sanders, gave Alana one of her paintings that now hangs in the Callaway Auditorium. Shepherd donor and Atlanta philanthropist Mickey Loudermilk Webb commissioned a series of three murals painted by Georgia artist Henry Barnes on the walls of the cafeteria. There is art in every corner of Shepherd Center – including the Livingston Gym, 40 mounted trophy fish in the pool area, and even high above where patients have painted ceiling tiles.

At the center of the art collection is the desire for patients and families to have something appealing to look at as they roam through Shepherd Center. The art can also serve as a source of inspiration.

“As they wheel and walk around the hospital, we want there to be something that catches their eye,” Alana says. “The pieces won’t appeal to everybody, but they will appeal to somebody.”

While the mix is eclectic, a lot of thought goes into where each piece is placed.

“We’ll put colorful, motivating pieces in the gym, for example,” says Wilma Bunch, vice president of patient experience at Shepherd Center, who also helps oversee the placement, “and more calming, soothing pieces in the acquired brain injury unit.”

Some of Alana’s favorites include a large 10-foot painting done by Atlanta artist Steve Penley and an imaginary map made out of ceramic by Gregor Turk. There is also work by Howard Finster and Mose Tolliver. 

The art even extends outside the doors of Shepherd Center. At the entrance to the building, there is a sculpture of a former patient and athlete Terry Lee throwing a javelin that was commissioned by former board member Jim Caswell.

The sculpture was created by artist Ed Dwight – who did the sculptures of Hank Aaron and Phil Niekro that were fixtures at Turner Field – and serves as an inspiration to patients as they drive up to Shepherd Center’s doors. The gardens are also filled with fountains, sculptures, and other pieces of art that patients and families can enjoy while outside.

“I hope the art sets a healing tone,” Alana says. “It certainly makes the hospital look less like a hospital. People are always taking time to look at the art, which is what we want them to do.”

Written by Sara Baxter

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.