Dan Cook's artwork is on display in the hallways of the Johnson Memorial Health (JMH) Cancer Care Center. (Photos by Michelle Kaufman)

The Power of Art

As you walk down the hallway of the Johnson Memorial Health (JMH) Cancer Care Center, vibrant photos of nature provide bursts of color along the brown walls.

Fine art photographer Dan Cook’s work is on display throughout the center. Cook currently gets treatment at the center and decided to donate more than 50 canvases. Some of the photos have been digitized to look like impressionistic paintings.

“I thought, ‘What better place to just go ahead and donate the artwork and brighten the environment here, so that other people could enjoy it as well as myself,’” Cook said. “It’ll be a legacy here and that’s very rewarding. The fact that I come here as a patient every week, it sort of makes it homey.”

Cook traveled from Indianapolis to Madison, Indiana, to photograph nature, sunsets and more.

At age 8, Cook got a camera and began taking photos of his family and pets. That camera could only print photos in black and white. Since receiving a Polaroid camera that could print in color as a high school graduation gift, Cook has continued to focus on bright colors in his work.

“I like sunsets, I like reflections in water and I like flowers,” Cook said. “I hope my work gives people a smile and that they appreciate nature’s beauty. It’s not the name recognition so much as just the beauty that’s right around us. You don’t have to travel to the east coast or the west coast – southern Indiana’s got it.”

As Cook makes his way through the center, he is stopped by several employees who tell him almost every patient has commented on his work, saying things like, “Look at these pictures!” and talking about how they lighten the space.

Dr. Stephen Eberwine, JMH Cancer Center medical director.

“He’s put a lot of passion into his work,” said Dr. Stephen Eberwine, JMH Cancer Center medical director. “It’s basically his life’s work, and so for him to want to showcase his work here at the Cancer Center, it’s very gratifying and very touching. We had almost the typical look of a hospital before, but now you could argue it’s an art studio up here. Every patient’s been kind of pulling out their favorite ones, and I think having a warm, inviting environment does play a role in terms of helping to care for patients.”

Over 250 of Cook’s photos are also featured in a book, “Indiana Inspirations,” in the center’s waiting area. The book is divided into seasons and Cook wrote a poem for each season.

“Photography became my first love and passion,” he said. “I was in the landscaping business and I always had a camera in my pickup truck. I’ve traveled to 25 of the national parks all over the country, but I wanted to do something specifically for Indiana. I think southern Indiana is beautiful and I’ve lived here all my life.”

In the future, Cook hopes to print more of his photos on canvas for the infusion rooms.

To learn more about the JMH Cancer Center, visit johnsonmemorial.org/cancer-care. “Indiana Inspirations” is available for purchase through Amazon.

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