Artists bring different worlds to Oakwood facilities

Striking images from two different worlds are on display in the art galleries at Oakwood hospitals through the end of June.

Entitled ‘Sri Lanka & the Kandy Esala Perahera’ and ‘America the Beautiful,’ the photographs are on display in the common areas of Oakwood Heritage Hospital, Oakwood Southshore Medical Center and the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center.

The Sri Lankan exhibit is the culmination of a 10-year project by Michael Sarnacki, a Royal Oak resident and former Oakwood employee. The rich photography highlights the Esala Perahera celebration, which takes place annually on 10 consecutive nights in honor of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. Sarnacki said the seed for the project was planted in 1994, on a plane trip from Detroit to New York City through a discussion with a Catholic priest from Sri Lanka.

“I thought it would be an ideal place to settle in and discover Sri Lanka,” he said.

He visited the country 10 times during the next decade, developing friendships along with the photographs. They’ve since been collected and published in a hardcover book that is available at the Branches gift shop at the OHMC. The book project was funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign.

“As we all know, Sri Lanka has gone through some very troubled times in the past years,” Sarnacki said. “This project is about the inherent beauty of its people and the richness of its culture.”

The book is also available at or through, but limited quantities remain. 

Vicki Athens, DPM, said the famous poem and the sight of America’s beauty inspired her photographs. Depicting everything from lush forests to wind-swept seascapes to majestic rivers and delicate flowers, the photographs provide brilliant snapshots of the land everyone should take the time to see in person, she said.

“If you read past the first stanza of America the Beautiful you encounter the human spirits who have gone before us – the natives, the pilgrims, the heroes, the patriots – and you may ponder, as I did, their first sight of these wonders,” said Athens, an Oakwood-affiliated podiatrist and foot surgeon. “To visit them is our unique privilege as a free people in a great land and one we all should consider as a personal goal.” 

CUTLINES: The current exhibits shown through Oakwood's Arts for the Spirit program showcase the beauty of Sri Lanka (above) and the United States.