HSHS St. John’s Hospital is looking to commission an artist who will create a work of art depicting the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis caring for victims of the 1908 Race Riot, one of the most violent riots against blacks in American history.
This composition will be the centerpiece of an educational wall exhibit on the 1908 Race Riot on the first floor of the new HSHS St. John’s Hospital Women and Children’s Clinic on Ninth Street. The clinic is located near the recently discovered foundations of homes that were burned during the riot. This riot led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“We want to pay tribute to the sisters’ unwavering commitment to care for everyone during the 1908 Race Riot,” said Charles L. Lucore, MD, MBA, president and CEO of HSHS St. John’s Hospital. “Commissioning an artist will allow us to honor the sisters and victims of the riot in a unique visual representation of the historical event.”
The size of the entire wall exhibit will be 9 feet tall and 21 feet wide. The size of the centerpiece that will be created by the artist should be about 32-36 inches wide and 28-42 inches tall. The centerpiece should match the rest of the exhibit as it’s been designed by a committee, but the hospital is open to how the artist we hire would like to create it. The goal is for it to portray one of our Hospital Sisters peacefully caring for black and white patients moments after this devastating riot.
On the evening of August 14, 1908, the Hospital Sisters and their hospital, St. John’s Hospital, offered refuge from violence and cared for the injured, blacks alongside whites. Despite the horrific violence of this riot, inside St. John’s there was peace. According to the archives of the Hospital Sisters, “When no more rooms were available at the hospital, patients were laid on mattresses on the floor — black and white patients lying side by side. Interestingly, once the injured entered St. John’s Hospital, they set aside all prejudice, antagonism and hatred.”

“Numerous anti-black race riots broke out in the north between 1900 and 1908. Anti-black race riots broke out in New York, Evansville and Greensburg, Ind., Ohio, Springfield, Ill., and other smaller cities. The Springfield Race Riot of 1908 garnered national attention because it was the home of the ‘great emancipator,’ Abraham Lincoln,” said Nell Clay, president of the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum. “Abraham Lincoln made Springfield famous and the race riot made Springfield infamous. During the riot, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis at St. John’s Hospital offered refuge from the violence and cared for the injured, blacks and whites alike. The challenge to this pictorial project, is to memorialize the 1908 Race Riot and to show the compassionate response and care of the sisters.”
The hospital will compensate the artist for his/her talents, time and materials used to create this centerpiece. During the interview process, the steering committee would like to see or hear proposals on what each applicant would like to create and the corresponding fees. Please submit samples of your work along with the application. To apply, visit www.st-johns.org/careers and search for “artist.”
Interviews will take place from August 13-17 in Springfield at St. John’s Hospital. The artwork should be completed by the artist no later than Nov. 1, 2018.
“We look forward to working with an artist who is passionate about helping us educate, heal and learn from our history,” Dr. Lucore said.

About HSHS St. John’s Hospital
HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois is a regional medical center offering a comprehensive array of health care services to central and southern Illinois. Founded in 1875, St. John’s is the flagship hospital of Hospital Sisters Health System and is home to the Prairie Heart Institute, St. John’s Children’s Hospital, St. John’s Women’s Services, St. John’s Neurosciences Institute, St. John’s Cancer Institute, orthopedic services and AthletiCare. St. John’s now has one of the most advanced surgery centers in the nation and a renovated patient tower with all private rooms. St. John’s is designated as a level I trauma center, has its own college of nursing and is a teaching hospital for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. For more information about St. John’s Hospital, visit www.st-johns.org.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our 15 local systems and physician practices in Illinois (Belleville, Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay).  HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org

Media Contact

Jennifer Snopko

Manager - Marketing and Communications
HSHS St. John's Hospital
Office: (217) 814-7857

Latest News

Christmas joy for our littlest patients

 December 22, 2022

HSHS St. John's Santa's Workshop brings joy to our littlest patients


Keeping safety in mind when shopping for children's gifts

 November 23, 2022

HSHS St. John's Children's shares 10 tips to remember when buying gifts for children


Santa's Workshop coming to Children's hospital

 November 7, 2022

HSHS St. John's Children's Hospital is hosting Santa's Workshop, a Christmas gift store for our pediatric patients