Courtesy: Eskenazi Health, Photo: Hadley Fruits
click thumbnail to enlarge

Paths Crossed

Indianapolis, Indiana

Aaron T. Stephan (

Eskenazi Health | Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital l 1st Floor Eli Lily and Company Foundation Concourse, 720 Eskenazi Ave., Indianapolis, Indiana, 46202
Owner:  Eskenazi Health (
Date:  2013
Placement:  hospitals
Collection:  Eskenazi Health Art Collection
Artwork Type:  sculpture (visual work), installations (visual works)
Material:  wood (plant material)
Description:  Paths Crossed is inspired by Eskenazi Health’s community-based mission and role as an educational institution. Hanging above the main reception area, the work defines the nexus of the institution with an iconic form that reveals itself in progressive layers. Its immediate impression is playful but can be further understood to represent the deeper philosophical model of the institution. Beginning with the form of a common ladder embodying everyday labor and skills, the ladder on a deeper level is a symbol of progress, empathy, and the power of the individual. It is mobile and adaptable enough to fit your personal needs. In this, the ladder represents progress and a healthy life, but it is a flexible progress and one that acknowledges the complexities of contemporary life.

In the work, six life-size wood ladders – 60 foot long each – weave through the main atrium space identifying the nexus of the institution. Each on its own path interacts with the others to create a graceful and almost biological form. At points in this journey, an individual ladder breaks from the others to soar through the air. At other points, the ladders join in a swirling group creating an entirely new dynamic. Elsewhere, a sole ladder heads towards the floor below, as if offering access to the piece above. At many points the monumental becomes personal– much like the relationship between the institution as a whole and individual interactions within the hospital.

This energetic form signifies the natural progression of a community that becomes stronger through individual interactions. Paths Crossed addresses the importance of these potent interactions. In this way, Paths Crossed embodies many things: a model of DNA, the possibilities represented in a ladder, or the synergy of individuals working together. No matter what the interpretation, Paths Crossed – at its foundation – opens up an important and dynamic dialogue with Eskenazi Health and the surrounding community.

Stephan sees the ladder form in his sculpture as a similar metaphor for what Eskenazi does — helping people to live a more healthy life and teaching others to do so — and this ladder is flexible and mobile enough to adapt to the wide variety of needs in the community. The junction of six separate ladders celebrates the interaction of many unique paths to health.

The sculpture is made of six handmade wooden ladders twisting and curving around each other. The work measures approximately 16 by 16 by 64 feet. The sculpture hangs from the ceiling of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation Concourse in the Eskenazi Hospital Building, and it is visible from the 1st floor lobby and 2nd floor lobby walkway. The entire sculpture is fabricated from over 1½ miles of maple laminates and over 25 gallons of glue. It is made entirely from sustainably forested lumber. The shape of the work was developed as each ladder was fabricated. In this, the work became like a drawing in which each line responds to the last to create a larger composition.

“Paths Crossed was fabricated in Portland, Maine. [Hard] maple lumber was milled into strips and then glued and clamped onto large wood forms that were constructed to create the curving forms of the sculpture. Each laminated section measured about 80 feet long. These were then cut into sections, planed, sanded, and finished, and reassembled with rungs connecting each side. A total of 33 sections were transported to the hospital and reconstructed on-site. Each section is bolted to the next and the bolts are covered with wood pegs. The installation included a series of lifts and cranes.” –Aaron Stephan

Aaron Stephan is a native of western New York. He received his BFA in sculpture from the State University of New York at Purchase and his MFA from the Maine College of Art in Portland. He has received prestigious residencies at the Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, at the Skowhegan (Maine) School of Painting and Sculpture and at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and has exhibited internationally. Stephan’s previous commissioned work includes sculpture for the University of Southern Maine, the U.S. Border Crossing Facility in Jackson, Me., Merrill Marine Gateway in Portland, Me., and a variety of school facilities throughout Maine. He lives and works in Portland, Me.

Dedicated with gratitude
Barnes & Thornburg LLP



Eskenazi Health Art Installations (17m 48s)

Follow Us