Fargo’s New Sanford Medical Center Lines Walls With Regional Artwork

by on Jun 21, 2017

Photos by Ethan Mickelson

Where new walls are constructed and rooms are formed comes the opportunity for art. Beyond the sterile environment of a museum, art must compete with reality for a chance to impact the lives of each passerby.

Lining each hallway and corridor of the new Sanford Medical Center Fargo are works created by regional artistsLining each hallway and corridor of the new Sanford Medical Center Fargo are works created by regional artists with an emphasis on the cathartic powers of calming landscapes and local scenes. The oil paintings featured above were created by Ron Merchant.

With a healing touch and cohesive message, the curated collection of art lining each hall of the new Sanford Medical Center perfectly blends regional art with the miracle of medicine. Set to open its doors to the public on July 25, the facility features calming local scenery aimed at speeding recuperation and improving the quality of care for patients, their families and caregivers alike.

patient rooms are tucked away down the medical complex's three wingsWith a sweeping view of the prairie outside each window, patient rooms are tucked away down the medical complex’s three wings.

Inside the 1-million-square-foot building, over 1,000 pieces of artwork hang among the comforting finishes, making the space feel more like a hotel than a hospital. Outside, the collegiate Gothic-style representative of the “Sanford Look,” draws the eye skyward, blending each specialized level of the three-winged tower into a modern campus of health and healing.

lobby on the family birthing center floorA relaxed lobby off the elevators greets guests on each floor with comfortable furnishings and large picture windows. Shown above is the waiting area on the family birthing center floor.

It’s hard to imagine the building abuzz with doctors, nurses, staff and patients, and even harder still to believe that just five years ago the area was nothing more than land on the prairie. In early November of 2015 as construction was underway, Sanford took its first step toward building a collection of works that could inspire joy, hope and peace during the healing process.

Today there is a total of 40 area artists’ works integrated into the infrastructure of the building, all residents living within Sanford’s geographic footprint including North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, portions of Montana, Iowa and Nebraska.

large mosaic murals created by Janet FlomTo complement the facility’s grand entrance, large mosaic murals created by Janet Flom tether the space to nature’s simplest forms in larger-than-life detail.

As the largest employer in the Dakotas, Sanford Health employs a total of 28,000 employees, including 1,300 physicians, many of whom will spend countless hours devoted to patients in the new facility. Thanks to the philanthropic efforts of the Sanford Health Foundation, both established artists like Ellen Jean Diederich and up-and-coming creatives such as Elias Harris, have also been enlisted to put their stamp on the project.

From the large mosaics by Janet Flom that fit together like a puzzle hanging in the lobby to the family birthing center nested on the 10th floor with photographs of newborns by Meg Spielman Peldo to inspire rejuvenation, each piece solidifies a sense of calm in the soon-to-be hectic pursuit of health.

Elias Harris attended Sanford's opening reception for the featured artists and their familiesAs the youngest contributor to the collection, 13-year-old Elias Harris attended Sanford’s opening reception for the featured artists and their families. With over 30 of his photographs hanging in the new building, the committee was not aware of the young teenager’s age during their selection process.

The first set of public eyes on the new works was a spirited group of community members, including the artist themselves, in a reception held during the facility’s month-long launch. The following list comprises all artists featured in the project, with works in photography, painting, fiber art, ceramic, stained glass and mixed media.


Jack Crary

William Damon

Dan Francis, Landscape photographs in patient rooms

Pat Hansen, Landscape photographs in patient rooms

photo by Elias HarrisPhoto by Elias Harris

Elias Harris, Youngest exhibitor who captured nature photographs inspired by his sister’s healthcare journey

Diane Hochhalter, Landscape/figurative photographs

Kenneth Klose, Landscape photographs in patient rooms

Dan Koeck, Figurative Photographs

Jayanadini Kuruppu, Photograph near staff entrance

Stacy Moe, Nature/animal photographs

Nick Roehl, Landscape photographs

Paul Schiller, Large landscape photographs

Meg Spielman PeldoOne of the most prolific contributors to the project was photographer Meg Spielman Peldo. A majority of the tenth-floor artwork is by her, featuring newborns paired with whimsical elements of nature, with the work above stitched together from individual photos.

Meg Spielman Peldo, Creative photographs on 11th floor of newborns incorporating whimsical nature themes


Jackie Anderson, Nature studies

Karen Bakke, Murals located in pediatric emergency department

Jenny Braig, Heavily textured oil paintings of regional nature scenes

Kimble Bromley, Oil paintings of rural lakes and waterways

Carmen Bruhn, Oil and watercolor paintings depicting women

Steve Brummond, Oil painting series of small regional landscapes

Ellen Jean Diederich, Oil paintings of a weekend at the lake

Nick & Nicole Fischer, Oil paintings by married couple located in pediatric and women’s floor

Tracy Frizzell, Oil murals in cafe

Scott Gunvaldson, Oil paintings of North Dakota and Minnesota landscapes

Ron Merchant, Oil paintings depicting people active throughout the region

Joan Putnam, Acrylic skyscape paintings

Stephen Randall, Oil paintings of recognizable area landmarks (Moorhead Dairy Queen, Hjemkomst Stave Church, Island Park Gazebo and more)

Leila Rastegar, Oil paintings of weekend at the lakes and Red River scenes

Naomi Roisum, Figurative oil paintings of families at Itasca State Park and Yunker’s Farm as well as people at the Steam Thresher’s Reunion

Star Wallowing Bull, Contemporary paintings combining traditional Native American themes with elements of modern life and nature

Fiber Art

Robin Carlson, Woven works in traditional Scandinavian methods

Val Halvorson, Fiber collage works depicting the Red River, farmlands, and the Fargo Theatre

Kristi Kuder, Collaborative piece inspired by and contributed to by participants in her regional workshops

Cheryl OlsonCasting reflections of countless patients and caregivers, glass encasing works made by Cheryl Olson with hand-dyed fiber materials, is sure to inspire crowds once the facility is opened to the public.

Cheryl Olson, Fiber collage quilts made from hand-dyed silks and fabrics depicting regional nature


Brad Bachmeier, Ceramic relief on 5th floor

Janet Flom, Largest commissions in the project includes mosaics featured in the lobby

Kathryn LutherWithin each handmade tile created by Kathryn Luther is hidden messages of joy and healing. Her composite of some of the best-known landmarks in Fargo, shown above, act as points of reference to help guests with wayfinding.

Kathryn Luther, Ceramic/mosaic works that highlight areas across the region, include handmade tiles with hidden words of hope and healing

Stained Glass

Stacy Asp & Tracy Wallach, Stained glass featured in the chapel

Mixed Media

Julie Berndt, Mixed media work inspired by the river including clay, wood, and stones