By Jonathan Schroeder
Few BYU students may realize that one of the most iconic paintings on campus is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. That’s because they can’t find this masterpiece in any traditional Museum of Art gallery or HFAC display, but in the nursing student lounge on the first floor of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower.
In 1992, the BYU College of Nursing commissioned former BYU professor Trevor Southey to paint a work entitled “I Would Learn the Healer’s Art.” The four-by-six foot oil on canvas commemorated the 40th anniversary of the College. The painting’s inspiration came from a line from the hymn, “Lord, I Would Follow Thee” that has become a motto for the College: “I would be my brother’s keeper; I would learn the healer’s art.”
Southey wanted the painting to capture an intimate moment of healing between nurses and patients. He experimented with several different ideas in his sketches and finally decided to leave the patient resting peacefully, as the nurse prepares to care for her charge. Her arms are delicately out-stretched, ready to practice the Healer’s Art.
“I really love this painting not only because of its beauty, but also because of the symbolism it contains,” dean and professor Dr. Patricia Ravert shares.
“I Would Learn the Healer’s Art” contains three specific symbols that form an inverted triangle within the painting. The red square on the right side of the painting represents blood and the human experience. Opposite the square is a golden sphere that symbolizes the spirit and things of eternity. At the bottom of the painting is an eternal flame, a tribute to the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.
“I think ‘I Would Learn the Healer’s Art’ does a great job of showing what it means to be compassionate,” observes nursing student McKenna Warren. “That’s something that we try to learn, not only as nursing students, but also as disciples of Jesus Christ.”
For more information, watch this video: I Would Learn The Healer’s Art