Xavier art professor contributes a commemorative painting honoring first responders

The painting depicting emergency workers is hanging permanently in the Drake Center gallery | May 19, 2010

A painting created by Assistant Professor of Art Bruce Erickson shows emergency workers, firefighters and police officers assisting people injured in a car crash. The Cincinnati skyline serves as a backdrop for the 30-inch by 38-inch mixed media painting, which is rich in color and action.

The painting was unveiled earlier this month at Drake Center rehabilitation hospital at an event honoring the nation’s first responders who have been catastrophically injured in the line of duty. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the keynote speaker at the May 13 event.

The painting, “A Tribute to First Responders,” now hangs permanently on Drake’s newly designated gallery wall that honors emergency workers. Many injured emergency workers have recovered at Drake, including the three honorary co-chairmen for the Giuliani event: former Cincinnati Police Officer Bryce Bezdek; Hamilton Firefighter Chris Gabbard; and Lockland Police Officer Brandon Gehring.

“Drake has a special connection with first responders. They consider us the place to come to rebuild their lives,” said Drake Site Executive Karen Bankston. “Professor Erikson’s work makes it possible for us to visually share this connection with all who visit Drake.”

Xavier has a special relationship with Drake, which is the area’s leading provider of specialized medical and rehabilitative care in the region, including long-term acute care in addition to skilled nursing care, assisted living and other outpatient and wellness services. For the past three years, Erikson has coordinated a community art program with Xavier University art students and residents of Drake Center. The program pairs students with patients to provide for them increased socialization, self-esteem, an appreciation for art and self-expression, and the opportunity to work with others.

“An important goal of our program is to gather Xavier student volunteers from a variety of disciplines such as art, psychology, nursing and education who collaborate with patients,” Erikson says. “This multi-disciplinary group exemplifies our Jesuit mission to educate the whole person—body, mind and spirit."

Erickson has been at Xavier since 2006. His effective use of colors and objects likens his work to that of American artist and realist, Edward Hopper. Images of his work can be viewed on his web site. Prints of the First Responders painting can be purchased for $150. All proceeds benefit the Drake Foundation. For more information, contact a Drake Foundation representative at 513-418-2500.