Local artist transforms medical rooms into black light landscapes

first_img ITHACA, N.Y. — Getting blood drawn is rarely a pleasant time for children — and even adults. But, with the flick of a light switch in three Cayuga Medical Center phlebotomy rooms, sterile white walls transform into black light scenes featuring neon elephants and monkeys in a jungle, or in another location, electric blue jellyfish floating up a wall across from a sea turtle.This week, local artist Mary Beth Ihnken is finishing work on a vivid prehistoric landscape where dinosaurs roam. When complete, the mural will be a permanent fixture in a new Cayuga Medical Associates building at Community Corners in Cayuga Heights and will hopefully help young patients find a smile while getting blood drawn.Ihnken is an experienced mural artist, but black light murals are new for her. Tucked in a small room in the under construction Cayuga Medical Associates building at Community Corners on Wednesday, March 13, Ihnken mixes paint that’s invisible in normal light but neon green in black light before setting down with her brushes. As she paints she explains, “It’s nothing like any normal paint you’ve worked with, ever.” Using the six available colors of the paint without being able to see them in normal light has been a challenge, but one she said she’s embraced. And the results have already begun to pop with life.Local artist Mary Beth Ihnken mixes black light paint while she is working on the new dinosaur-themed room. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)Deborah Mansfield, outreach manager for Cayuga Medical Center laboratories, said having black light phlebotomy rooms was inspired by Mayo Clinic Laboratories in Rochester, Minnesota. Mansfield said the room transformation is to help kids, primarily, through the process of getting blood drawn and make them more comfortable.“They’re sitting there, they’re crying, they just had their blood drawn and all of a sudden we tell them there’s going to be a surprise for them. Then we change the lights and they just start looking around, and of course, they’re looking at their clothes with the blacklight. When they see that … it changes their mood and it helps them,” Mansfield said.“When they leave, they’re not crying anymore, they’re not upset,” said Kailey Holt, Patient Service Center supervisor. Your Arts & Culture news is made possible with support from: The in-progress dinosaur-themed room will be the third phlebotomy room with blacklight murals in a Cayuga Medical Center building. Another room is located in a Cayuga Medical Center office at 1020 Kraft Road with a jungle theme, and the other is “under the sea”-themed at Cayuga Medical Center’s hospital.To paint an accurate picture of what dinosaurs may have roamed here in North America, Ihnken turned to Ithaca’s Paleontological Research Institution. With guidance from Maureen Bickley, museum education coordinator at PRI, Ihnken said they settled on featuring the Maiasaura, which were duck-billed herbivores that lived about 76.7 million years ago. The first fossils of Maiasaura were only discovered in 1978. The name “maia” refers to “good mother” because researchers discovered that the Maiasaura fed and took care of their young while they were in the nest.Ihnken and the hospital thought a dinosaur documented to be nurturing and in North America would be a good fit for a hospital rather than the more popular but jarring T-Rex or velociraptor. The mural also features a Pteranodon, which was one of the largest-known flying reptiles with a wingspan of more than eight meters — that’s taller than a giraffe.Ihnken has painted murals throughout Ithaca and first moved to Ithaca in 1994. Ihnken has done a lot of work in private homes, but she has done a number of public mural projects, too, including the giraffe mural by Pete’s Laundry. Her current work is also not the first time she’s brought dinosaur landscapes to life. In 2015, she painted a 50-foot mural of dinosaurs for the Museum of the Earth. She has also done work in local schools and said she loves being a part of project-based learning.“I love painting,” said Ihnken “And I love painting public murals because it really gives back to the community.”Though the black light paint has had a bit of a learning curve, Ihnken said she loves being a part of the project because it will help children forget why they were stressed getting blood drawn and help them leave in a good mood.Follow Ihnken’s progress on the room and see more of her work on Instagram here.The dinosaur room will be part of the new Cayuga Medical Associates building being constructed at Community Corners in Cayuga Heights. The mural will be done Friday, March 22 and construction is expected to wrap up in April. There will be an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30.Featured image: A maiasaurus illuminated by black lights. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice) Tagged: Cayuga Medical Associates, cayuga medical center, ithaca Kelsey O’Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor. More by Kelsey O’Connor Kelsey O’Connor last_img read more