Brown Arts

Larry Kirkland | Intertwine (2011)

larry kirkland Intertwine
Photo by Craig Collins

Larry Kirkland

Intertwine, 2011

  • Engraved granite, 24-karat gold leaf, cast bronze and carved Carrara marble
  • L. 26'
  • Installed in the Medical Education Building, The Warren Alpert Medical School, first floor

close up detail of Kirkland Intertwine
Photo by Craig Collins

Intertwine, located in the atrium of the Warren Alpert Medical School, is a mural that reflects the importance of collaboration in successful medical practice. The LEED-certified building, renovated by architects Ellenzweig Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the first facility designed exclusively for medical education in the Medical School’s history. Larry Kirkland’s reputation as an established public artist preceded him as the Public Art Committee searched for an appropriate Percent-For-Art commission to accompany the build. The Committee and medical school representatives were especially drawn to Kirkland’s previous science-based commissions.

Made of Carrara marble, 24-carat gold leaf, cast bronze, and etched green, gold, and black granite, Kirkland’s mural embodies the Alpert Medical School’s mission of “the pursuit of health to benefit society.” The twenty-six foot long piece features a collage of scientific and humanitarian symbols, highlighting the communication between doctor and patient, teacher and student.

Male and female silhouettes, engraved with a botanical pattern and gilded with gold, stand at either end and are connected by two EKG heartbeat lines that stream across the mural. The importance of connection is emphasized in the large representations of DNA molecules, and the several pairs of hands engraved on granite blocks interspersed throughout the piece. A maze in the center reminds viewers of the complexities of life and medicine. The words “empathy,” “diligence,” and “discovery” are written on six protruding bronze blocks. Kirkland met with Medical School students to identify words that referenced their philosophy of practice.

A pair of sleek Carrara marble chairs completes the work. Facing each other in front of the mural, they highlight the importance of an open and equal relationship between doctor and patient. They also provide a place for people to sit and engage with one another and the piece. Intertwine enhances the lobby by providing a physical manifestation of the collaborative medical practice taught by the Medical School.

Larry Kirkland has worked in the realm of public art for over 30 years. He currently divides his time between Washington, D.C. and a studio in Carrara, Italy. Kirkland’s large-scale installations have been commissioned widely for public spaces in the United States and abroad. He has created works for the Putra World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur, the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, the Metropolitan Transit Railway Central Station in Hong Kong, and Pennsylvania Station in New York City, as well as numerous medical facilities, including Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, and the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Kirkland has served on the peer review panel for the U.S. General Services Administration’s Design Excellence and the Arts Program, as well as the Public Art Network Council of Americans for the Arts.