For Tracy Jarrells, art is a great release. It brings her joy “to kind of get in there and make a mess and see what comes out of it.”
Her art also brings calm to people around her.
“I like to make pieces that are calming and soothing, and the responses I’ve been getting from the community are just that — they feel relaxed, warm, soothed,” Jarrells related.
That fits well with the art she had on display in the Patricia S. Bendall Art Gallery at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham in July. She sees it as a way to minister to patients and visitors.
Something for patients
“It gives them something else to think about other than being in the hospital,” Jarrells explained.
The gallery hosted the work of local artists until the COVID-19 pandemic caused the program to be paused. Jarrells is the first artist to be featured as part of a restart.
David McKinney, community relations and communications manager for Brookwood Baptist Health, said the gallery “offers Brookwood visitors an opportunity to brighten their days while receiving care and is a favorite facility landmark of staff members across several departments.”
McKinney noted many of Jarrells’ pieces have Bible verses on the back and are inspired by her faith so they’re a great fit in the gallery, which is directly across from a new chapel.
Her work “perfectly represents Brookwood Baptist Health’s mission of extending the healing ministry of Christ,” McKinney said.
Jarrells says that’s her hope on a holistic level. She always prays for God to guide her art, and hospital work is close to her heart as well. She was a “candy striper” growing up; her parents always served at their local hospital; and her father was president of the auxiliary. And her daughter is a NICU nurse at another medical facility.
“It’s a great place, a hard place, but it’s important that we invest,” Jarrells said. “I think it’s important to support, love and encourage those who are there.”
Like her hospital service, Jarrells’ art also started when she was a child. An aunt would do crafts with her and her sister, and she loved it.
“I loved creating something, making something,” she said.
She took classes at the local art museum and college, then studied art in high school, but tabled it as she earned a college degree and raised a family.
“I had my kids, my family, and moved around, and now they’re grown so I have a little bit more time,” Jarrells said. “I pulled out all the supplies again, and it’s been really fun.
“I think the one thing I would say is if you’re a young mom, we get put on the back burner a lot. No regrets, of course, but it would’ve been great if I would’ve taken a little time and made that time to enjoy [creating art]. I encourage people to take time to do what you love.”
Most of Jarrells’ work is acrylic on canvas, though she has been experimenting with textures, thicknesses and adding things like sand and stones to her pieces. She said she loves the opportunity to make something other people can enjoy.
“We are in a world where we consume so much — we consume social media, entertainment, movies and sports,” Jarrells said. “It’s really fun for me to be able to create something beautiful and give back.”
Ability and passion
She believes God gave her the ability and passion to express herself through art.
“I think the Lord really downloaded that in my DNA. To be able to pull it back out has been really fun,” Jarrells said. “The inspiration comes from all different things, and I try to put a Bible verse on the back of most of them, either for insight or encouragement for somebody else.”
The pieces reflect the truth of the verse, she said, like the piece that says “do not be anxious” on the back. Her prayer is that anyone who sees it will “be reminded that the Lord’s got it.”
The art gallery at Brookwood is on the ground level between the main entrance and the Women’s Medical Center.
For more information about Jarrells’ art visit her Instagram, @tracyjarrellsart.