Thrive by IU Health

October 21, 2021

Painter by day, housekeeper by night

IU Health Arnett Hospital

Painter by day, housekeeper by night

Herman Roark is an artist. He describes his artwork as experimental abstract. He also works as a housekeeper for the administration office building of IU Health Arnett.

Herman Roark

Roark has been painting on and off since he was a teenager. Taking long breaks as life happens. If he sees something that inspires him, he thinks ‘I could do better’ and he gets to work.

His studio is his spare bedroom. Roark says each piece of art takes a month or two to complete depending on the size and the amount of detail he wants to include.

His artwork adorns the walls of the administrative office building much to the delight of his fans. It changes when he gets bored with it or wants to share something new.

I know I am always excited to bump into Herman each week and learn about his latest masterpiece. Seeing his artwork on our walls makes my heart happy. He is so talented and passionate and that definitely shines through in his work,” explained Kara Bishop, marketing manager.

Herman has a special gift and we are so happy that he has shared his paintings with us in the administrative office building. It has brightened up our décor and conversations,” added Koreen Kyhnell, vice president of human resources.

By nature of his role with Environmental Services, Herman is an after-hours, ‘behind-the-scenes’, contributor to keeping our environment a comfortable and enjoyable place to work. But, he also contributes to our workplace through his colorful, imaginative and joyful paintings.

Having his artwork on display is a unique and personal way for him to add to the experience of many who work in and access this building,” shared James Bien, MD, chief medical officer.

Roark paints for himself. He has not hosted an art show in over 30 years but does share his artwork with the buildings he works in at IU Health and with his church. He has sold art to a few team members, but admits he often is not ready to let a piece go when he is asked to sell.

I appreciate his artwork. I honestly wanted to support his efforts and I needed something on my office wall. I do love the color scheme - bright and vibrant - and I know it is a passion of his. Stress reliever for him as well,” said Cynthia Gamble, medical student education coordinator, of her recent purchase.

Roark uses different materials for his canvases like old advertising boards and cardboard. He often finds discarded materials when working at the administrative office building. He uses acrylic paint but sometimes adds a little oil from paint sticks.

He asked a marketing team member if he could use some discarded paper because it was a different kind of material, a little thinner than standard paper and it was poster size. The bright painting turned out to be a favorite of his nephew who asked if he could buy it for his office. Roark feared it would get damaged due to its delicate nature and thought about transferring it to a 40”x 60” canvas. Then inspiration struck. He took the painting to a local company and asked if they could make it into a t-shirt for his nephew’s birthday and they did. When Roark brought it to the office to share, it became an instant hit and many team members asked to purchase t-shirts as well. He calls it the Love Shirt.

Love t-shirt

Herman is such a wonderful person to have on our team. His work ethic is outstanding, and he always welcomes everyone with a warm smile and hello,” shared Amy Wells, his supervisor.

“I have gotten to chance to see Herman’s artwork on many occasions and it has brought me and many others joy. I have a piece hanging in my office, he made for me a year ago and recently added a new creation to my collection a t-shirt that one of his paintings was put on. What a talented man he is in his working life and creative life.

Roark has been an IU Health team member for fourteen years and has no plans to retire anytime soon. He may have new side gig as a t-shirt designer.

Herman's paintings