Artist Amanda Edwards is already hard at work in her Maine studio creating a five-story tree-house mosaic that will be installed this summer in Boston Children’s Hospital’s new addition. She’s cutting approximately 275 square feet of tile and stained glass for the artwork, which will span five floors of new patient rooms at 57 Binney Street.
The hospital selected Edwards, 37, to receive a commission for the work, after a lengthy selection process that included voting by patients, their families and hospital staff. Over 100 people voted this fall on three proposals that had been narrowed from hundreds of applications. The votes influenced the final decision of the panel of experts who chose the design, said Betty Bothereau, owner and lead consultant at L’Attitude Gallery, who served on the panel and helped solicit the votes.
“There was a lot of love for all three concepts,” Bothereau said. “But ultimately, the tree house concept won because it was the most different.” The hospital has nothing like it in its collection, she said.
Bothereau said that Edwards’ concept, dubbed “Everyone’s Tree House,” received “very good cross-cultural responses” from international patients and families at the hospital.
The other two finalists, Cynthia Fisher of Charlemont, and Lisa Houck of Dedham, received a percentage of the votes, but Edwards’ took the majority.
“The tiles are vivid and colorful, and it really pops,” said Darrel Foster, whose daughter Meg, 15, of Lowell, is a patient, in explaining why he voted for Edwards’ concept.
“I voted for it because I wish I had a tree house,” Meg said.
Floors 6 through 10 in the hospital’s addition will feature Edwards’ mosaics, which will be visible in their entirety from an inner courtyard. Each floor’s mural will stick to a theme -- celestial, sky, earth, underwater, and seashore – that will be tied together by Edwards’ “tree of life” design, which features a tree growing through each mosaic.
Edwards is creating the mosaics in sections on panels in her Maine studio, which will be transported to the hospital. She will oversee installation of the project.
It’s a huge project, but Edwards has some help: a part-time assistant and several fellow mosaic artists, as well as her biggest cheerleader, Matthew Edwards, her husband of 18 years.
A self-taught artist, Edwards recalls her grandfather’s pencil drawings as her earliest inspiration. His work “really instilled a deep appreciation of art in me. It was hung in almost every room of our house,” she said. “I studied his shadowing, his use of tiny details, and the small hints of color.” Edwards grew up in Woodbury, Conn.
Edwards currently resides in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, with her husband and children Tim, 21, Julian, 10, and Priya, 7.
A full-time working artist for the last eight years, Edwards prefers glass above all other media. Artists Marc Chagall, Isaiah Zagar, and Anado McLauchlin are her biggest inspirations.
“I love everything about glass; the variety of colors, textures, reflections, shapes, and the way it handles. The process of taking thousands of little pieces and putting them together to make something beautiful is almost like meditation for me,” she said.
Earlier this month, Edwards submitted her final sketches to the children’s hospital panel for approval. Bothereau, the gallery owner, and Jessica Finch, the hospital’s art program manager, plan to visit Edwards at her studio.
The installation process will begin in June; the hospital’s new wing is set to open in July.
This article was reported and written under the supervision of Northeastern University journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel, as part of collaboration between The Boston Globe and Northeastern.