'Bloom' bursts on scene at Women's and Children's Hospital

A large kinetic sculpture that literally bursts with energy has blossomed in the front entrance of Alexian Brothers Women and Children's Hospital in Hoffman Estates.

Called "Bloom," the sculpture has 14 flowerlike blossoms made of acrylic. It features a control dock at a child's level, to let kids move the forms at the touch of a button.

"It's fun," said Gabrielle Wesley, an 8-year-old patient who tried the interactive display Thursday at its dedication. "I like all the colors."

Hospital officials said the unique work was commissioned thanks to a major donation from Claire's, which is headquartered in Hoffman Estates and specializes in fashion jewelry and accessories for young girls and teens.

"Bloom will help our patients be more comfortable - right when they enter our doors," said Melanie Furlan, vice president of the Alexian Brothers Foundation.

Not surprisingly, the flower blooms look much like the type of embellishments found on many of Claire's headbands and fashion jewelry.

"We wanted to give kids something colorful and interactive when they enter the hospital that might take the edge off their fear," said J. Per Brodin, executive vice president and CFO of Claire's.

The sculpture was designed in collaboration with Health Environment Art Services of Arlington Heights, which has designed all the artwork in the new Women and Children's Hospital.

"It brings color into the space, and the fact that it's interactive means that children can relate to it," said Denise Rippinger, president of Health Environment Art Services.

Rippinger turned to artists Joe O'Connell and Blessing Hancock of Creative Machines Inc. in Tucson, Arizona. The company specializes in making this type of interactive exhibit.

The unveiling drew hospital officials, local business people and dignitaries, including Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod and state Rep. Fred Crespo.

Brodin said that while Claire's supports many worthwhile charities around the world, this was its first major corporate donation since the company had come under new management.

"We've been involved with the Women and Children's Hospital since it opened last year," Brodin said, "but we were looking to do something more permanent."

Hospital officials intend to install a plaque near the sculpture, with this quote: "Children are like flowers. Water them daily with love and watch them bloom."

  Donovan Saavedra, 20 months old, of Carpentersville plays with "Bloom" while being held by his mother, Tabitha Reusch., on Thursday at the Alexian Brothers Women and Children's Hospital in Hoffman Estates. George LeClaire/
  Guests arrive for the unveiling celebration of "Bloom," the custom designed, kid-friendly sculpture in the lobby of the Alexian Brothers Women and Children's Hospital. George LeClaire/
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