- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

GARDEN CITY, Idaho (AP) - Getting around blacksmith and artist Susan Madacsi’s workshop requires some squeezing right now.

Long, large tables take up the middle of the main area and are covered with half-finished panels for the art piece, “Stewardship of the Creation,” Madacsi is creating for the new Nampa Saint Alphonsus Medical Center. The hospital is scheduled to open by early summer.

“What I would like people to come away with when they engage in the artwork, ‘Stewardship of the Creation,’ is a relationship with nature and the grounding connection it offers to one’s own personal spirituality,” she told the Idaho Press-Tribune (http://bit.ly/2jIlvqM).

An Idaho native, Madacsi received her bachelor of fine arts from Boise State University. She attended Austin Community College in Austin, Texas, to study welding, but one day passed a room where she could hear hammers striking metal. She peeked inside and found a blacksmith class in action. After that, she was hooked.

Madacsi went on to study at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris, France, and the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. Her blacksmithing evolved over the past two decades into art, and she has created pieces for the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania, Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, Holmes Regional Medical Center in Florida and the Phillips Collection art museum in Washington, D.C.

The art installation at Saint Alphonsus will be on the hospital’s feature wall, visible at the main entrance. Composed of seven 2-foot-wide, 20-feet tall steel-framed panels, the piece displays a mosaic of hundreds if not thousands of hand-forged steel medallions, ranging from the size of a large coin to the size of your hand.

The overall picture conveys a peaceful landscape of desert, farmland and hills coming up on the treeline of the Boise National Forest. At the top are panes of glass depicting blue sky. The panels will be lighted from behind with LED strip lights, giving them a non-invasive glow.

The medallions are heated in Madacsi’s forge to 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit, then removed with tongs and shaped using a power hammer. Once cool, she paints them.

Interspersed among the medallions on her art installation are seven forged, aluminum medallions etched by a fellow artist with pictures depicting parables from the Bible. The parables will be like a sort of search-and-find for the viewer.

Chosen out of five artists to construct the feature wall’s art piece, Madacsi took the approach of thinking about the people who not only come to the hospital for care, but also the workers. Saint Alphonsus staff took her on a tour through one of their hospitals.

“It kind of made me think about the people that are there every day and all the stresses that people go through there, and things I didn’t know about,” Madacsi said.

The artist described talking with the hospital chaplain and asking him where his stress comes from. He told her about an emergency buzzing sound that comes from medical equipment, alerting staff when someone is in medical distress.

That artwork, particularly its depiction of nature, is important to helping provide a calming environment that is not “in your face” spirituality, but does hearken to the Saint Alphonsus Catholic roots.

Flipping through a notebook with a cross on front with pages that are covered with quotes, notes and illustrations, Madacsi explained how “Stewardship of the Creation” came to be.

The core concept came to her after taking a nap.

Madacsi said she woke up one day with a picture of three overlapping circles - a Venn diagram depicting art, spirituality and nature, the intersection of which is humanity.

“It’s ‘available to everyone, and is there when you need it,’” Madacsi read from her notes.

All three of those elements - art, nature and spirituality - offer calming, contemplation, understanding, healing, nurturing and experience of good and bad.

“These three things encompasses all of that, and in the middle is like, humanity,” Madacsi said.

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Information from: Idaho Press-Tribune, http://www.idahopress.com

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