The Art of Healing: Harold Berg
Dr. Harold F. Berg (1918-2002) was Louisville’s beloved artist-surgeon. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Dr. Berg graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1941 and made Louisville his home. He founded a surgery practice, joined the faculty of the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1961, and served as Head of Medical Staff at Jewish Hospital. Inspired by tile work he saw on a 1957 trip to Mexico, Dr. Berg began making mosaics in his spare time. Over the next three decades, he went on to produce some 200 works, most of which he created as gifts for Jewish, medical, and civic centers throughout Louisville. Dr. Berg’s beneficent artworks also reside in institutions in Boston, Washington D.C., and Israel.
With the help of his drawing teacher, advertising executive Joseph Grigsby, Harold Berg crafted two large-scale mosaics for Jewish Hospital’s lobbies. Appropriately, these vivid works blend Jewish textual traditions with medical motifs. In one, Berg imports the wisdom, humility, and faith of the influential 12th century Spanish Jewish doctor-philosopher Moses Maimonides into the modern era. The second was designed for Jewish Hospital’s Wheeler Tower, which opened in 1973. It pairs scenes of pharmacy and surgery with a comfort promised to the Jewish people in the book of Isaiah: the healing powers of a compassionate God.