UK HealthCare

At the Intersection of Art and Healing


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 6, 2010) − In honor of the University of Kentucky College of Nursing's 50th anniversary, a commissioned painting,  "Bluebird and Dogwood," by North Carolina wildlife artist Marcus C. Thomas will hang in the administrative suite of the college.

Thomas has dedicated the past 24 years to wildlife painting and has a deep awareness and fascination for the powerful symbolism present in nature. What is perhaps most remarkable about the works of art is that Thomas uses a paintbrush in his mouth to craft his creations – including paintings that have appeared on calendars and note cards. 

Thomas has lived the past 25 years as a quadriplegic after a skiing accident in 1985. During the critical stages of his recovery, dedicated nurses provided the necessary strength for his wife, Anne, and for Thomas to move forward. His experience has reinforced a deep appreciation for the nursing profession. After one year of recovery, with no prior experience and a determined pursuit for a fulfilling life, Thomas discovered the art of painting. After receiving a watercolor set for Christmas, 1986, Thomas began an adventure he describes as "providing tremendous enjoyment."

The visual beauty, rich folklore and biblical history associated with the bluebird and dogwood tree provided the perfect tools for delivering a message of hope, strength and endurance.

"With the strokes of my paintbrush, the word 'disability' loses meaning and a comforting strength prevails," Thomas said.

"Every day, nurses are on the front line of health care," said Jane Kirschling, dean of the UK College of Nursing. "They utilize their knowledge, their hands, and their hearts to care of persons, as well as their families, who are faced with acute and chronic illnesses. It is with the privileged space of these interpersonal relationships that healing occurs."

Limited edition prints may be purchased at
A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the Bluebird and Dogwood will be donated to the New Opportunity Fund at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing which provides support for students through scholarships, travel funds and other academic related expenses.