‘Tree of Remembrance’ art project unveiled at Pullman Regional Hospital

Image of the 'Tree of Remembrance' at Pullman Regional Hospital.
On Aug. 29, Pullman Regional Hospital officially unveiled the “Tree of Remembrance” art project created in partnership with Washington State University staff and students during a ceremony at the hospital.

On Aug. 29, Pullman Regional Hospital officially unveiled the “Tree of Remembrance” art project created in partnership with Washington State University staff and students during a ceremony at the hospital. The project, crafted from acrylic and wood in WSU’s state of the art fabrication facilities, serves as a tribute to patients and staff who have passed away since the hospital’s construction in 2004. 

Anna Engle, a Pullman Regional Hospital nurse who coordinated the project with WSU, explained that the tree was originally conceived as a tribute to hospital patients and staff. However, it has also evolved into a symbol of the camaraderie and friendship shared between the two institutions—both integral parts of the Pullman community. 

“The initial purpose of this project was to have a space for families and staff to honor and remember the patients we have cared for during their deaths and our coworkers who have died while still employed,” said Engle. “Working with the staff and students at WSU has been a great partnership. We worked together to create something very meaningful that will have an impact for years to come.”

The tree of remembrance display is comprised of various components, each with its own symbolic meaning. Leaves represent adult patients, while blue and pink butterflies symbolize pediatric patients. At the base of the tree, stones commemorate hospital staff members, signifying the foundational care they provided to patients. Many of the colored acrylic pieces in the installation also bear the name of the person it memorializes.

Under WSU staff supervision, eight students designed and fabricate each aspect of the tree. 

Chris Lavoie, an experiential learning designer at WSU who advised students on the project, expressed the significance of the experience, stating, “The project was an enriching experience for the students. Creating something so impactful and enduring means a lot to us all. They will be able to return to the hospital in the future and witness their creation continuing to make a real difference in the community.”

The WSU students who participated in the Tree of Remembrance project represent various artistic and technical disciplines. They all became involved with the project through their association with WSU’s Creative Corridor program. 

The Creative Corridor program at WSU Pullman offers students access to advanced technology for creative endeavors. Its mission is to foster creativity and collaboration by providing cutting-edge fabrication equipment, such as engravers, 3D printers, and design software, distributed across various campus locations. 

Assistant director of WSU Learning Innovations, Jon Manwaring, is involved with the program and explained that “the Creative Corridor aims not only to empower students in their creative pursuits but also to facilitate unique learning experiences that encourage innovation, collaboration, and the creation of meaningful final products.”

While Creative Corridor students have designed and completed many projects in the past, the Tree of Remembrance presented an opportunity to create something that also serves the community of Pullman. 

Expressing his gratitude to Pullman Regional Hospital for their trust in the WSU students and their creative influence on the project, Manwaring said, “Ultimately,” it has been an excellent learning experience for the students, allowing them to gain practical skills while collaborating with hospital staff to create a truly meaningful and lasting work of art.”

One of the project’s participants was Manwaring’s daughter, Rowan Manwaring, a first-year student at WSU.

“This project meant a lot to me as I have grown up in Pullman and the hospital has helped a lot of important people in my life,” she said. “Participating in projects like this through Creative Corridor has helped me feel closer to the Pullman community and to connect with amazing, talented people. I’ve also learned so many skills that I believe will open academic and professional doors for me in the future.” 

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