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Design Study for "Healing Tree"

Who Am I? Exhibition

Published onAug 25, 2020
Design Study for "Healing Tree"

Design Study for Healing Tree, 2009
Michaela Mahady (American, b. 1951)
Pencil on paper
Gift of the artist. In the Art on Campus Preparatory Studies and Maquettes Collection, Christian Petersen Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

Art Philosophy Statement 

The art work will Celebrate compassion provided by the most diverse of all health professions and animals’ roles in our society.

The work will Educate regarding our heritage, our traditions, and our commitment to the enhancement of animal, human, and environmental health by the application of scientific discovery. The artwork communicates the diversity of the veterinary profession.

Art in State Building Commission Committee for the The Healing Tree by Michaela Mahady

Photo by Bob Elbert.


Michaela Mahady created a sand blasted glass mural The Healing Tree Mural Cycle that includes The History of Veterinary Medicine, Equestrian Plain, and The Healing Tree. The glass mural connects the small and large animal clinics at the College of Veterinary Medicine and is affectionately known as “the glass hallway.” The glass panels provide a history that transitions from the veterinary traveling wagon through depictions of public health, vaccine and disease prevention discoveries; food animals that supply meat and fiber; horses that engage with us in work, sports, and recreation; and pets that provide companionship, each forming a human-animal bond that enriches our daily lives. In the mural, images of veterinarians depict the occurrence of gender inclusion for women and the ongoing goal to expand the profession’s inclusion of veterinarians with different cultural and ethnic identities.

The murals are bordered by images transferred to glass from projected slides that were used by the college teaching faculty. I can identify my own slides that I loaned for the creation of the mural; therefore, a part of my career is embedded in this mural. This grand mural culminates in The Healing Tree which is reminiscent of the past Highlight Magazine pictures with figures, objects, and animals intertwined in scenes for children to find “hidden” images in the art. To view the entirety of The Healing Tree, which extends to the second-floor ceiling, one needs to ascend the stairs to view the many animals intertwined in the branches of the tree. In the center of The Healing Tree is a circle that radiates branches to illustrate the circle of life with the interwoven relationship between human beings, the environment, and all animals, also known as the One Health concept. Under the Healing Tree, children are having a picnic to remind us that the harmonious balance between people, animals, and the environment must be retained and shared for future generations to achieve and sustain optimal health and well-being. Even the fanciful butterfly at the picnic reminds us of the importance of pollinators, critical to sustaining our food supply. Since this mural is glass, the backdrop is the world outside showing us the environment beyond the building that protects and houses this majestic scene.

This mural is inspirational for visitors to gain a further understanding of veterinary medicine. This mural it is my favorite place to be reminded and inspired about the work we do, and the important impact this work has on people, animals, and the environment.

Dr. Claire Andreasen
Dr. Roger and Marilyn Professor in One Health, College of Veterinary Medicine

Photo by Bob Elbert.


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