University of South Florida home page

USF Main Links: A-Z Index | Campus Directory | Calendars | Search

USF Home > College of The Arts > Institute for Research in Art

Elyn Zimmerman
Sanctuary, 1991

University of South Florida, Tampa
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute

Sanctuary is a site-specific artwork, responding to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. The work, in part, references the architecture of the hospital itself. The four standing columns of the fountain area and the smaller seating columns directly reference the most visually striking elements of the hospital’s construction. Zimmerman’s use of the limestone and flint rock makes a sweeping reference to the geology of the site, and Florida’s geology generally. Limestone forms the caverns of the state’s aquifer, while the indigenous people of Florida used the flint for tools and weapons. The conceptual heart of Sanctuary is derived from the nature of the hospital and the needs of its users. Sanctuary, sited North of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, was designed to provide the hospital patients, their relatives, staff, and medical professionals with a place for reflective solitude. Situated at the base of a bowl formed by the surrounding landscape, Sanctuary invites the user to leave the environment of the hospital and enter into a quiet dialogue with the artist’s work. The participant enters into the seating area transversing a series of steps that lowers the viewer’s perspective by thirty inches, and brings them closer to the main fountain element. Seated in the inner chamber of Sanctuary, the participant is surrounded by the sound of running water trickling over limestone boulders, pooling in a slate bottomed reservoir. The lower elevation of the seating area, relative to the surrounding sculpture, isolates the viewer from the hospital environment reinforcing the concept of a sanctuary. The surroundings create a calming, intimate atmosphere conducive to reflection and private conversation.


Sanctuary as seen from the roof of the Moffitt Cancer Center.

Detail of Sanctuary.

Sanctuary made possible by Florida's Art in State Buildings Program