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Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Children at St. Mary's Hospital engage in a sing along during musical therapy.

A heavily used space at a children’s hospital in Bayside is now a radiant place of hope thanks to a local artist.

In a project that spanned about five years, New York-based artist Dan Colen turned the previously gray and industrial 2,500-square-foot activity center at St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital into a breathtakingly colorful room of beauty and comfort.

The multipurpose space is used for indoor recreation, including school programs, art classes, talent shows, costume parties and musical therapy. The room was unveiled to the children at the hospital during an energetic group musical therapy session on April 4. Colen was present for the joyous event.

“I don’t really have words for it,” Colen said when asked how he felt seeing the class take place in the newly designed space. “I’m glad that I got to see it.”

Artist Dan Colen

Artist Dan Colen (center)

Taking inspiration from his series of confetti paintings, Colen and his studio team began working about five years ago, shooting high-resolution photographs of rainbow Mylar confetti. The team then carefully stitched the photographs into one continuous image, creating a template for the work, ceiling to floor. Then, painting began.

“Every fold [in the room] has its own surface,” Colen said.

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The project was an exercise in coordination, the artist continued.

“It’s such an ambitious [project],” Colen said. “We had to close the area for several months to complete it because we had to redo the floors and walls and obviously bring in the whole painting crew.”

The children’s hospital, located at 29-01 216th St., is the largest long-term care provider for children with complex medical conditions in New York.

“At St. Mary’s, we believe that the arts are essential to promoting health and well-being in children,” said Eddie Simpser, president and chief executive officer of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children. “Children with special needs can encounter artistic expression to free their imaginations from the constraints imposed by physical limitations, thereby improving their quality of life. We are so pleased to be partnering with RxArt on this wonderful project.”

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RxArt, a nonprofit that commissions contemporary artists to transform healthcare facilities into inspiring environments, made the project possible. The project at the Bayside hospital was RxArt’s most ambitious yet.

“We could not be more proud or happy to be working at St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children with Dan Colen,” said RxArt founder and president Diane Brown. “This project has been a labor of love by everyone involved. We are thrilled to be able to brighten the recreation room for the wonderful kids of St. Mary’s.”

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