» Chicago, Bauhaus, and Me
Chicago, Bauhaus, and Me
Submitted by Admin on Mon, 12/16/2013 - 12:32

I grew up in Gary Indiana, just 20 miles outside of Chicago Illinois.  In stark contrast to the Windy City - Gary was a small steel town – most readily recognized by industrial odor and the smoke stacks of the U.S. Steel Corporation.  Although the Gary community was nurturing, there was a definite void when it came to being stimulated by the beauty of my surroundings.   Chicago, however, has always been a personal beacon - offering up inspiration for the amazing possibilities of a life engaged with art and design.   As it turns out, Chicago and the Bauhaus have played a fundamental role in my evolution as a physician.

Founded in 1979, the Chicago Area Health and Medical Careers Program (CAHMCP) aimed to prepare urban kids for successful careers in the health professions.  I was privileged to be among the earliest groups of students to benefit from the program.  CAHMCP was housed on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) on Chicago’s Southside.  I can remember as a high school student being equally excited by both the physical appearance of the IIT campus and the educational enrichment offered through CAHMCP.  I often fondly reflect on my IIT/CAHMCP experiences as the creative catalyst for my career in plastic surgery.  

It wasn’t until many years later as a surgery intern at the University of Michigan that I came upon a book on the Bauhaus and made the delightful connection between IIT, Chicago, and the emergence of Modernism in America.  The Bauhaus is considered to be the most influential school of art, design, and architecture of the 20th century.  After its closure in 1933, Bauhaus professors and apprentices spread a unifying principle of art integrated with industry throughout the world.  Surprisingly, the life work of two Bauhaus masters, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, is intimately interwoven with Chicago and the rich history of IIT. 

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the last Bauhaus director, immigrated to Chicago to head the Department of Architecture at IIT.  Mies designed the buildings and the master plan for IIT’s campus.  Crown Hall built as the home of IIT School of Architecture is highly regarded as Mies’ finest work. So, it’s no surprise why I was enamored with the IIT campus as a CAHMCP student.  Laszlo Moholy-Nagy moved to Chicago in 1937 to start a new design school which he named the New Bauhaus.  The design school flourishes today as the IIT Institute of Design and has grown into the largest full-time graduate- only design program in the US with students from around the world.

Even in my youth, I felt a strong connection to the modernist spirit.  I’ve always been energized by art, design, and architecture.  A desire to build and create is ever-present in me.  So, I continue to cultivate my passion for design and the art of healing to help others experience beauty and goodness in their lives.


Mies van der Rohe Sculpture by Hugo Weber 1961, Crown Hall

S.R. Crown Hall, College of Architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology

Dr. Monte O. Harris during a recent visit back to Illinois Institute of Technology, 2013

Lugwig Mies Van der Rohe

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Bauhaus - 1919
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