Something very special arrived in Kalamazoo on Tuesday, perhaps one of the few by-products of the pandemic, and incubated by the care a young artist received at a local hospital.  A sculptor who spent time as a child having his hands reconstructed at Bronson Children’s Hospital has created a new life-size sculpture capturing the spirit and strength of pediatric patients at Bronson Children’s Hospital.

The sculpture, created by artist Josh Diedrich, was unveiled this afternoon on the grounds of Bronson Methodist Hospital at the corner of Vine and Jasper streets.

The piece includes realistic bronze figures of six children. One of the images is a depiction of an actual mom with her baby born at Bronson. Other figures are loosely based on pictures that were submitted by parents of Bronson Children’s Hospital patients.

Diedrich began the sculpture in his studio just before the start of the pandemic. Diedrich says after the first day of the quarantine, he hauled the figures to his house. “I began adding clay to the statues in my living room,” Diedrich adds. “I spent the next five months sculpting them from home.”

Diedrich says designing this sculpture had particular meaning to him. “I was a patient myself for several long periods as a child as I needed to have my hands reconstructed,” he explains. “I hope that every child going into the hospital can find themselves somewhere in the piece.”

The sculpture is made of cast bronze, done in the traditional lost wax method. The statues are attached to a 2,000-pound pedestal made of cultured stone, ultra-high performance concrete, over a steel framework.

Bronson Childrens Hospital Sculpture-Bronson provided photo
Bronson Childrens Hospital Sculpture-Bronson provided photo

This sculpture was funded through the Bronson Health Foundation in large part by the Polzin Family in memory of John Polzin who passed away in 2017. John served on the Bronson Health Foundation Board of Directors from 1987-2015. “This piece honors John as he exemplified the healing power of kindness and humble generosity in our community to support Bronson’s youngest patients,” says Terry Morrow, vice president of development, Bronson Healthcare. “We honor John and his wife Kay for this donation and their long-time commitment to ensuring Bronson Children’s Hospital is fully prepared to care for children in our community.”

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“We hope this sculpture serves as a visually pleasing landmark for Bronson Children’s Hospital,” says Morrow. “It reflects the commitment Bronson has made to being southwest Michigan’s only children’s hospital. Our dedicated pediatric and neonatal staff go above and beyond to provide specialized services and care for our young patients every day.”

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