The University of Kentucky installed a sculpture near the front entrance of the new Chandler Hospital Thursday, intended to symbolize the hope for healing that the hospital represents.
The bronze sculpture by British artist and Holocaust survivor Maurice Blik depicts a man in a moment of exultation at having received a second chance at life. The base of the sculpture, which is called Second Breath, includes a quote from Blik: "The Human Spirit Will Always Endure."
Dr. Michael Karpf, UK's executive vice president for health affairs, said he decided that Chandler Hospital needed a sculpture by Blik after seeing one of his uplifting works at Vanderbilt University.
Turner Construction Co. donated funds for the sculpture, and the installation cost was covered by private donations, UK officials said.
"I think it will really be an iconic piece for our hospital because it speaks directly to the essence of what we are," Karpf said Thursday. "To me, the sculpture's meaning is hope and the strength of the human spirit.
"That's what UK Healthcare has to be all about. We're about hope for our patients, getting them through difficult times, and we're about hope for the future because of the research we do."
Blik knows about hope and the endurance of the human spirit.
Born in the Netherlands in 1939, he was swept up in the Nazi occupation of that country during World War II, when he was a small child, and placed in the German concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Somehow he survived.
Liberated at war's end, Blik has lived most of his life in England. He worked in art education from the elementary through the postgraduate level before starting to make his own sculptures about 1980. His work has been described as "sometimes inspiring and sometimes frightening it its intensity."
"Second Breath is based to some extent on my own experience," Blik told the Herald-Leader in a telephone interview. "To my mind, it symbolizes the kind of feeling someone gets when they get to have another go at life, when they've been at death's door and have recovered.
"I hope that having it in a place like the hospital will be an inspiration to people who come through some pretty hard stuff and survive."