Constellation (Tree of Life)

Artist: Rebecca Kamen in collaboration with Tim Chrepta

Dedicated to the patients and staff at the Levine Children’s Hospital, and to my parents who inspired me to always reach for the stars.

Stars and the points of light they create chart the night sky. Man looked to the stars to navigate on land and sea prior to maps and GPS. For thousands of years, people in all cultures have created unique stories about the constellations, including the Australian Aborigine, who developed song maps or “Songlines,” using singing to navigate and describe locations on their nomadic journeys.

The art installation created for the Levine Children’s Hospital, Constellation, celebrates stars. It symbolizes the extraordinary patients and caregivers at the Levine Children’s Hospital and honors the bright light of their healing process that shines on all of us.

The concept for Constellation has been inspired by the words of the father of modern neuroscience, Santiago Ramón y Cajal: “As long as our brain is a mystery, the universe, the reflection of the structure of the brain, will also be a mystery.“

Similarities in the structure of the brain (neurons) and the universe (cosmic web) is seen in the fractal / branching layout of the Constellation installation, inspired by the Tree of Life logo of the Levine’s Children’s Hospital. Circular, waveform sculptures is created from participants’ voices through a process called “Cymatics,” which transforms sound waves into visual patterns. Scientists use sound waves to explore both outer space (the cosmos) and inner space (our body) to make the invisible, visible.

On each branch of the installation circular sculptures are grouped in threes, the larger one created by the patient, the smaller ones designed by their parents to reference the support of family and patient caregivers. Each sculpture includes a patient/parent- drawn “map” relating to some aspect of their life journey. Created by the technique of blowing paint through a straw, this map represents the power of breath to communicate, and references the song maps of the Aborigine.

Constellation continues to ripple out through the sound waves of patients and their caregivers. The installation, with its branching pattern, symbolizes the human spirit and its ability to connect and weave stories of healing and transformation, inspiring us all!