Lifeline: The Hanging Garden Transforms Montefiore Medical Center’s Moses Campus

Lifeline: The Hanging Garden Transforms Montefiore Medical Center’s Moses Campus

Rooftop view of Ruth Marshall's The Hanging Garden

Ruth Marshall's The Hanging Garden stretches 80 feet along the courtyard terraces at Montefiore Medical Center's Moses Campus in the Bronx, New York. Photo: Courtesy Montefiore Fine Fine Art Program and Collection

More than five miles of paracord – a durable, lightweight material often used in parachuting and camping – went into Bronx-based textile artist Ruth Marshall’s latest installation. The Hanging Garden comprises hundreds of colorful flowers in various stitching patterns and stretches 80 feet along the outdoor terraces of the Moses Campus of the Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

The piece represents the latest in Montefiore's program, The Gallery in the Gardens, established in 2014 to connect the healthcare setting with artwork that promotes healing and a connection to the outside world.

“The goal is to create a fine art program that’s integrated into the daily life of the operation of the health system,” says Jodi Moise, curator of the Montefiore Fine Art Program and Collection. “We acquire artwork, commission pieces, and have rotating exhibition programming that is not just for the patients. It also impacts family members, physicians, staff, and our Montefiore associates.”

Marshall recalls being unsure when Moise originally approached her about submitting a proposal – the artist works mostly with wool, and most of her work is kept indoors – but once the artist found paracord, she fell in love and the task evolved.

“The initial challenge that I gave myself was ‘How can I make as many flowers as possible to fill up this space?’ ” Marsh explains. “I am a trained sculptor as well, so I understand spatial imagery and how it works in a space pretty well.”

Needless to say, Marshall’s work completely transformed the courtyard's visual appeal and – Moise and Marshall hope – its effect on the everyday life of the medical center’s various community members. After the piece's initial stay at Montefiore this summer, Moise has plans for it to be carefully disassembled and shared with other healthcare settings next summer for even more impact.

“Many times when a person comes to a medical center, they lose sense of what is going on outside the parameters of the hospital environment,” Moise says. “Retaining that connection with nature is very positive. It’s healing. It’s life affirming.”