July 12, 2019
Through the Eyes of St Mary’s Kids
Denise “Austina” Cardwell, a Brooklyn native, developed her passion for the arts and fashion design during her time as a student in the New York Public school system. Including her experiences in the school system, her parents encouraged her artistic aspirations by enrolling her in extracurricular art programs in their community. This culminated in her acceptance into the Fashion Institute of Technology as a Fashion Design major in 1982. There, she received her AAS and a Bachelor’s in Production Management. Upon completing her degree, Austina began working as a Production Manager for several design houses in NYC’s garment district.
Austina works primarily in gouache on watercolor paper, giving her paintings intense hues. Inspired by Cubism, her paintings are energetic and bold featuring heavy smooth linework and stained glass inspired geometric elements. The artwork Austina makes explores concepts of the physical and spiritual, expressing divinity in both through formal elements of composition, color, and line. In this way, the work encourages the viewer to explore their relationship to the paintings and consider the meaning of their own responses.
The piece Austina created for St. Mary’s, entitled “Through the Eyes of St Mary’s Kids” came after a visit to the hospital. Her first impression of the building was admiration for the well lit and wonderfully colorful building. After spending time in the lobby, Austina’s attention turned to the patients passing through. Their beautiful, shining smiles in spite of hardship fill the already well illuminated, airy, and colorful space. This experience made her grateful for the health of her own two sons, and she imagined creating artwork for St. Mary’s that expresses these feelings. Capturing the experience of these children as they see the colorful lobby, through the large shiny windows, across the beautifully manicured lawn, pass the Cross Island Parkway, over the Throgs Neck Bridge, and out to the boats sailing on Little Neck Bay, “Through The Eyes of St Mary’s Kids” expresses hope, love, joy, and fortitude through challenging circumstances.
St. Mary’s is beyond appreciative of this wonderful gesture bestowed upon them from Austina. The artwork will be displayed in St. Mary’s new 21 unit expansion of the hospital’s pediatric facility for all to view.