Samford's Healing Arts Murals Find a New Home

Published on October 11, 2017 by Maryellen Newton  

From 1988 to October 2017, four large murals were the centerpiece of the Samford University’s Dwight and Lucille Beeson Center for Healing Arts rotunda, home of the Ida Moffett School of Nursing. Now, the murals have found a new home in the lobby of the College of Health Sciences. 

The College of Health Sciences, which began in 2013, is home to Ida Moffett School of Nursing, the School of Health Professions, McWhorter School of Pharmacy and the School of Public Health. The college and its four schools relocated in fall 2016 to new facilities in the former Southern Progress Corp. headquarters purchased by Samford in 2014. 

Each mural depicts a different biblical scene. One is of Moses while the other three are stories of healings from the New Testament. 

Moses’ story comes from Exodus 17 where he smites the rock so the people may drink. This is relevant because water is the most basic element to good health but also the symbol of baptism. 

Two of the New Testament stories are of Jesus from John 9 and Luke 7 where Jesus anoints the blind man so he can see and raises a boy from the dead, respectively. The third New Testament scene is from Acts 3 when Peter gives a crippled beggar the ability to walk. 

In the 1980s, Jeffrey Mims was chosen to paint these murals for Samford, to depict scenes of healing. In his work, he expanded the meaning of spiritual healing to physical healing as well. 

In painting the murals, Mims had models who posed with the correct facial expression and gestures of the scene.

Mims worked on, making preparatory drawings that would turn into cartoons that would be transferred onto large canvases to mount on the wall. There was plenty of routine work, squaring surfaces, transferring, picking colors, and his assistants helped him with these tasks. 

Finally, the paintings were transported from Mims’ studio to Samford and have been viewed by thousands of campus guests through the years. 

Nena Sanders, vice provost of the College of Health Sciences, knew the murals ultimately belonged with the health and wellness students. The paintings reflect the mission of the College of Health Sciences in that the purpose is health, wellness, healing and missions. 

While the paintings were originally in the Center for Healing Arts, students from each of the four colleges in the College of Health Sciences now see the murals whenever they walk into the building. 

“The message is the same for any students in health sciences,” Sanders said. “We answer our call to serve and assist people to restore health.”

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ABOUT SAMFORD UNIVERSITY -- Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 3rd among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,509 students from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.