Michael Devaney has worked at a few jobs in the trades, spending time as an electrician and a carpenter. Right now, he's a truck driver.
But that work has never spoken to him the way art does. When he paints, Devaney feels a special, spiritual connection with God. That is why his work mainly focuses on landscapes.
"It gives me a chance to focus on the natural beauty that God created in our world," he said.
Devaney recently was awarded Best of Show honors during Adventist Midwest Health's second annual National Arts Program Healing Arts Exhibit. The exhibit, featuring art by hospital volunteers, staff and their family members, was on display at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital from Nov. 6 to Jan. 5.
"The work produced for this year's show was spectacular," said Sue Kett, who leads Adventist Midwest Health's Healing Arts program. "We appreciate the support of the National Arts Program in helping bring this show back to our hospitals this year. Without them, we would not have had the chance to put the talents of our artists on display."
Devaney's award-winning piece, titled "Flower Garden," is a reproduction of a Monet he painted three years ago. While some of Devaney's work has been displayed at the Brigantine Gallery in Downers Grove, the National Arts Program show was the Oak Park resident's first display in a public exhibit.
"My sister is a nurse at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and she's the one that convinced me I should be in the show," Devaney said. "I didn't believe I was good enough, but maybe I am."
In choosing a Best of Show winner, the executive team at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital searched for something that represented healing, said Michael Murrill, vice president and chief financial officer for the hospital.
"Michael's depiction of a flower garden amid a summer setting portrayed peace and serenity," Murrill said. "It felt as if the woman in the painting was walking through a healing garden. The hospital seeks to provide a healing sanctuary for our patients, so we felt a deep connection with his work."
Devaney's painting also provided his family with one last touching memory of his father, who recently died of lung cancer.
In his last weeks, Devaney's father spent time at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital for surgery. Devaney's painting, complete with its Best of Show ribbon, was on display at the hospital the day his father was discharged. He had an opportunity to view it before he left.
Not long after his return home, Devaney's father passed.
"It meant the world to me, his having a chance to see that," Devaney said.