Debbonnaire Kovacs, Dec. 17, 2014 “Most other Adventist institutions have some sort of sculptural centerpiece on campus, and we’ve had nothing,” said Eric Cadiente, Marketing & Public Relations-Director at Adventist University of Health Sciences. “But we wanted something different—something that would speak directly to our mission.”
Now they have it. The Garden of Miracles, an installation of seven fourteen-foot-tall glass depictions of seven miracles of Jesus, is intended to give students and visitors, as well as patients and families at nearby Florida Adventist Hospital, a place to quietly contemplate whatever pain and brokenness they may be experiencing in the light of the presence of the Great Healer. Cadiente said that for students at the university, as well as health care providers, the sculpture garden is meant to be a “daily visual reminder of our mission—healthcare as ministry. Most are depictions of healing miracles, though one is not.”
The glass sculptures in the Garden of Miracles are especially beautiful at night. Photo credit, Eric Cadiente
The setting is perfect for such contemplation; there are new plantings of shrubbery, flowers, and trees which will grow to create oases of privacy around the sculptures, each of which has its own path which leads to a restful seating area. Lake Estelle provides a calming and beautiful backdrop, and plans are in the works to provide signage giving the biblical source of each sculpture.
Cadiente takes us on a virtual walk through the garden. “The first one is the story of the ten lepers Jesus heals, and shows the one that came back to thank Him. The second shows Jesus healing the man with the withered hand. The third is the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda. The fourth, intentionally chosen as the center, is the only one that is not specifically a healing miracle; it’s Jesus calming the storm. In everyone’s life there is always a time when we need Jesus to calm a storm of some kind. We want people to think of that in the middle of whatever storm they are facing. The fifthe sculpture is the man born blind, the sixth is the woman who was healed by touching Jesus’ garment, and the seventh—again, chosen intentionally for its position—is the raising of Lazarus. We chose that for the end because everything ends in resurrection.”
The creations themselves are not actually traditional stained glass; they are created with two pieces of glass with the color fused between. The depictions themselves are four feet by ten feet (about 1 meter by 2 ½ meters) and are supported by stainless steel masts making them about fourteen feet high. Cadiente says they would have to be taken down in the event of a hurricane, but should be able to take just about any other weather or wear and tear.
One of the most interesting facts about this installation is that they were volunteered by the employees of Hunton Brady Architects, the architects of the new graduate building. The Hunton Brady website has this to say:
“Our employees volunteered their time and talents to design a new sculpture garden to grace the shores of Lake Estelle at Adventist University of Health Sciences in Orlando outside the new graduate building. “This project came about through President David Greenlaw’s vision to have an outdoor sculpture garden on the campus green for quiet, meditative contemplation,” explained Maurizio Maso, AIA, Design Principal… Their modern, colorful forms promote hope and optimism in an idyllic setting. The artwork will overlook Lake Estelle and can also be seen from Florida Hospital Orlando and the Orlando Museum of Art across the lake.”
I asked Cadiente whether he could say anything about visitors’ reactions yet, or whether the installation was too new for that. He said he knows the students see it daily, and that there have been some visitors, “but I don’t think the Orlando arts community has discovered it yet.” It is the hope of the university and the hospital that the Garden of Miracles will provide a comforting place of peace and hope in the midst of crisis.