Art student brings her talent to new medical school building – UNLV NewsCenter | Team Cansler

Each weekday, Ann Diggins, Director of Student Affairs and Career Services, walks past a splash of color that she helped bring to the recently opened Kirk Kerkorian Medical Education Building (MEB). The blob of color that is on the third floor of the MEB right next to the Dr. Hanging on the Barbara Atkinson Forum is a painting by UNLV Arts Major Ellie Rush entitled Better Together, a gift from the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine to the UNLV Class of 2022.

“The dean’s office and the study office always had the intention that there would be a class gift for every graduating class. So the class of 2022, our second graduating class, was the first class we could do that with,” says Diggins.

When it came to deciding what the gift would be — a decision made by a committee made up of representatives from the medical school, UNLV’s art department and UNLV’s main campus — a painting made sense for Diggins.

“I said, ‘Look, I think you should do something inside. There are a lot of walls in this room, and we didn’t know what the art plans were at the time,” says Diggins.

The 2022 class commissioned the first painting to be hung in the MEB.

After the committee decided to give away an artwork, they posted a call for UNLV student artwork, which let Rush’s friends know about the competition. Rush says that “friends and friends of friends sent me the opportunity,” and after learning more about the competition, Rush felt inspired to submit her art. The Call for Submissions asked artists to respond to a topic of their choice; One of the theme options is “Diversity, Inclusion and Acceptance”.

The theme resonated with Rush, who says, “I really wanted to focus on the fact that UNLV is one of the most diverse schools in the country. Especially here in Vegas we have so much diversity in general but also within the medical community. I really wanted to make sure everyone was represented in some way.”

Armed with inspiration and a brush, Rush set to work capturing the positivity that medical students and professionals have brought to their communities, especially in recent years. Rush says, “Medical professionals have really shone during the pandemic. They are the ones treating the sick, but they are also emotionally supportive of their communities. Likewise, local communities came by for emotional support.”

Rush’s painting, in pale pink, red, and blue, captures these moments of support from a diverse group of doctors, students, and patients.

While working on Better Together, Rush was mentored by UNLV art professors Sean Slattery and Tim Bavington. “I just have to keep thanking Sean for all his help with the process and guiding me through many things I was doing for the first time, and Tim for letting me nurture this creative side of the project.”

Slattery praises Rush’s piece for its “refined sense of composition”. Slattery says, “She can fill the room with a lot of activity, and yet you can see all of these stories happening on screen. The canvas and scope feel calm, not crowded.”

The artful depiction of multiple scenes on screen represents a hopeful future for medical school, Slattery says. Slattery says, “She didn’t just want to tell one story because there are so many stories; concentrating on just one story would be detrimental for the future as so many stories are coming out of the school – and will come – for decades to come.”

Nichole Staker, interior designer and senior project manager in the architecture and interior design department at UNLV Planning and Construction, also commends Slattery for his help, saying, “Sean was wonderful in his mentorship and even helped Ellie build the stretcher for the play. ”

In Staker’s professional opinion, Rush’s painting is a perfect, even necessary, complement to MEB.

Staker says, “I worked on UNLV’s Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine project before there was a hole in the ground as one of the UNLV design and build representatives. It was an incredible pleasure to work with the A/E teams at TSK Architects and see this building come to life. Everything feels complete now that Ellie’s work is hanging in the finished space. Her piece complements the building’s finishes perfectly and I am so proud of her and all that she has achieved.”

Installed this month, “Better Together” will be admired by MEB inmates and guests for years to come.

Regarding the Class of 2023 gift, Diggins says, “We’ve already started talking to them about what gift they want to leave their classmates at school when they walk out the door.”

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