Johns Hopkins University has joined nearly 300 cultural institutions in Bloomberg Connects, an app offering free digital access to art collections and exhibits around the world. Through the app, users can listen to exclusive audio guides, read commentary from art critics and historians, and view countless works of art. The Johns Hopkins Digital Collection launched at the Bloomberg CityLab 2023 conference on Wednesday, October 18.
Art is everywhere at Johns Hopkins, almost hidden in plain sight. Rather than being housed in a single gallery, the works, both commissioned and collected, are seamlessly integrated into their surroundings. In its current iteration, the Bloomberg Connects guide features art from the Homewood Campus, Sheikh Zayed Tower and the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore and the new Bloomberg Center at Johns Hopkins University at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, DC
A total of more than 200 public works of art found on Hopkins campuses are included, from historical portraits to large-scale sculptures to small sketches on paper. Bloomberg Connects is available for download on iOS and Android devices.
“Having a public art collection adds an aesthetic dimension to the campus environment that can be inspiring, thought-provoking and even delightful,” said Elizabeth Long, dean of University Libraries, Archives and Museums at Sheridan. “We want to create spaces that are rich in meaning for our students, faculty, staff and visitors. Innovative new digital tools like Bloomberg Connects encourage even deeper exploration and engagement with our public art, while expanding access to the collection to the widest possible audience.”
One of the most defining features of Gilman Hall is the white lanterns suspended from the three-story ceiling of the atrium. These sculptural works, collectively titled Vascular field, were commissioned by artist Kendall Buster and were inspired by artifacts at the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum just one floor below. According to the Bloomberg Connects guide, the vessels stand “in contrast to the opaque, dense nature of ancient ceramics formed from clay.”
Tucked away at the northern end of the Homewood campus is the Bufano Sculpture Garden, a wooded respite from the hustle and bustle of academic life populated by stone bears, camels, penguins and other whimsical animals sculpted by Beniamino Bufano. Lined with benches and a shady gazebo, it’s a relaxing place to study – or take a break from studying.
Johns Hopkins Hospital
The Sheikh Zayed Tower and the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center are literally wrapped in art. The colors and patterns on the building’s exterior are the work of artist Spencer Finch. Finch’s subtle palette of 26 colors, as well as the whiter layers of watery marks infused into the glass, were inspired by the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet – specifically his famous gardens and lily ponds outside of Paris at Giverny.
Hundreds of artworks can also be found throughout the interiors of both Zayed Tower and the Bloomberg Children’s Center, designed to uplift and bring comfort to patients of all ages, as well as their families. At the Bloomberg Children’s Center, the main topic is The joy of reading— with sculptures, dioramas, photographs and paintings inspired by classic children’s books. Equally inspiring are the works that can be found throughout Zayed Tower, where the common thread is Nature and the natural world.
Hopkins Bloomberg Center
The debut of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Connects guide coincides with the opening of the Hopkins Bloomberg Center in Washington, DC. In a prominent place in the building are four permanent art installations, expressly commissioned to integrate seamlessly into the dynamic interior of the new building. Each of these four initiatives was carefully planned during the earliest stages of the building’s development, in close coordination with the center’s architects and the Hopkins Design and Construction team.
The most extensive of the four works was created by Ethiopian artist Elias Sime and his team from a studio in Addis Ababda. Titled roots, Syme’s work extends around the three exterior walls of the center’s theater – a primary destination at the heart of the entire building. Covering an area of more than 2,000 square feet, Sime has completely enveloped the south, east and north walls of the theater from floor to ceiling with lyrical compositions made entirely of woven wires, circuit boards, computer keys and other electronic parts — sourced from the infamous flea market of Addis for e-waste. As a powerful presence from the moment one enters the Hopkins Bloomberg Center, Sime’s roots speaks of renewal and innovation.
The other three installations may be missing roots‘ of great size, but equally impressive. Sam Gillam, widely recognized as one of the most innovative artists of his generation, was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1933. He moved to Washington, DC as a young artist and made it his home until his death in 2022 .He was able to complete his work for the ground floor of the center, Beautiful blue and!, the previous year. A radically dense, dense and sculpturally shaped painting, it stands as an excellent example of his late work.
From the eastern end of the library floor, above the building’s entrance, radiates a tile mural created by Brazilian artist Sandra Cinto. Her blue and white composition suggests an open book or manuscript, with the page numbers in the upper left and right corners (20 and 23) recording the year the installation was completed. Graceful images of water and sky, as well as the pentagram, expand on the line of text inscribed across the wall: “From every mountain let freedom ring.” This line from “My Country, It’s for You” echoes the iconic 1963 speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King while standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, as well as the history-making Marian Anderson Memorial Concert in 1939.
Finally, at the east end of level 7, next to the Q Cafe Bar, there is an informal gathering space decorated with a glass mosaic mural. A work by Shahzia Sikander, her garden landscape lavishly rendered with vibrant pieces of colored glass titled Metax—Greek word meaning “between” or “middle ground.” The Polish poet and essayist Adam Zagajewski reinterpreted the word to describe the condition of a human being who is eternally nomadic; the French philosopher Simone Weil added further to this definition, describing “metaxu” as the condition of those who follow paths to truth and knowledge all their lives. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, as a young artist Sikander chose to learn the ancient techniques of miniature paintings created to illuminate manuscripts. Since moving to the United States in 1993 to further her studies, she has continued to create works of many scales, in a wide range of materials and techniques, filled with her own vocabulary of images and references. She generates her final images for Metax with a picture that she then translates into digital animation. Among other honors, Sikander is the recipient of the MacArthur Award (2006). She lives and works in New York.