University Community

Collaborative painting in Grover Center reflects College purpose

Sometimes, great ideas emerge during a game of pickleball.

Especially if your partner’s name is Patty.

Every Wednesday, John McCarthy, dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professions, grabs his paddle and meets Patty on the court. During one particular game in 2021, McCarthy was lamenting about wanting to host a meaningful appreciation celebration for his college team that had supported him so much during his appointment as then-interim dean.

So, they passed the ball back and forth and it didn’t take long for Patty to offer a plan: have a party at Passion Works! Patty is the Patty Mitchell, owner of the Athens City gem that delights and pours colorful art, encouragement and inspiration into every corner of the city and way beyond.

McCarthy thought that was a brilliant idea.

Painting with purpose

McCarthy hosted the celebration at Passion Works and brought in food from Zoe restaurant next door.

“We gathered around a large table with a blank canvas. Patty told us about Passion Works and then invited us to make some art,” McCarthy said. “People seemed hesitant. Many people said, ‘I can't paint’.”

Patty said, "just make a circle".

She made a tiny circle on the canvas. Then she made another one.

There wasn't anything special about the circle. She said to just make something on there.

After making circles, people began to combine shapes. They began to add things. Once engaged everyone had a brush and was crafting their own contributions.

After a while, the canvas came alive with many small scenes of varying types, styles and skill levels.

Patty asked McCarthy to share more about the college and its purpose. What do you do? What do you believe in?

"Passion Works Studio creates opportunities for all people to explore and socially connect through the process of making art,” Patty said. “We follow the aesthetic lead, talents, and interests of people with developmental differences and support collaborations to encourage vibrant and inclusive communities. We upcycle otherwise discarded materials and produce environmentally responsible items. No voice, no resource, and no region are abandoned as the studio fosters connection, purpose and belonging."

She passed the canvas to her artist-in-residence to add to what the CHSP team started.

Now, the collaborative painting hangs in the Grover Atrium.

Students, faculty, staff and friends know that the Grover Center Atrium is a gathering place and community-building pride point for the College of Health Sciences and Professions. More than a pass-through to class, the vast space welcomes community networking events, student displays, information sessions, interdisciplinary events and so much more.

Now, when you walk into the Grover Center, look up. The painting you’ll see reflects the care, passion and purpose in the walls and the people there.

“One of the most special things about our College is the way we work together across health expertise and discipline,” said McCarthy. “Besides being a welcoming artistic addition to the space, the painting symbolizes the beautiful outcomes that can happen when we lean into each other’s different strengths and perspectives.”

June 23, 2023
Staff reports