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When developing plans to build Huntsman Cancer Institute, founders Jon and Karen Huntsman saw art as an important part of their vision “to make sure the environment would be as healing as the medicine.”

Today, Huntsman Cancer Institute is home to thousands of original paintings, sculpture, and pottery. The works featured here are displayed in the Kathryn F. Kirk Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care and Women’s Cancers at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

The cultural traditions of Indigenous peoples are often manifested by a connection to the land and through song, prayer, kinship, spirituality, and art—including painting, weaving, sculpture, carving, pottery, and more. Images and symbols communicate meanings of strength, inspiration, legacy, and hope.

About the Collection

Works displayed in the Kathryn F. Kirk Center are modern and contemporary pieces created by Indigenous artists. All pieces are part of the Jon M. and Karen H. Huntsman Family Collection.

Many of these works were created for the commercial art market. Extensive efforts were made to learn about the pieces’ significance and meaning from artists or their living descendants. Tribal representatives were also consulted to understand cultural significance and to ensure the objects are displayed respectfully and appropriately.

We recognize the rich history behind the collection and welcome continued opportunities for learning. Share insights at

“To me, weaving is healing. It is something that helps people by calming their gaze and helping them heal. I want viewers…to look at the weaving through the eyes of love. The spirit contained within the weaving will give the viewer peace.”
Barbara Jean Teller Ornelas

Land Acknowledgement

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah rests on Indigenous land that reflects the rich history of our state and region. We are committed to honoring, respecting, and protecting the story and the People of this sacred place.

Special Thanks

Artists and Educators

  • Dr. Joe Kee, Professor of Navajo Language and Culture, University of New Mexico
  • Cecil Miles, Navajo, Carver
  • Barbara Jean Teller Ornelas, Navajo, Master Weaver
  • Shirley Brown, Navajo, Regional Weaver
  • Ashley Tsosie, Navajo, Regional Weaver
  • Phyllis Pettit Nassi, Otoe-Missouria and Cherokee, Associate Director, American Indian Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute
  • Nathan Begaye, Navajo, Patient Navigator, American Indian Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute

Art Fellows

  • Ali Snow, Art Collections Manager
  • Kiki Karahalios
  • Jace Meier

Tanner’s Indian Arts

  • Joe E. Tanner, Sr., Curator 
  • Cindy Tanner, Curator
  • Emerald Tanner, Curator
  • Brad Chavez, Exhibit Specialist
  • Karen Harris, Exhibit Specialist
  • Randy Hosteen, Exhibit Specialist
  • Kara Kubasiak, Affiliate

Display Consultants

(formerly with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian)

  • Peter Brill, Assistant Director for Exhibitions and Programs
  • Lisa Hein, Exhibit Specialist
  • John Richardson, Exhibit Specialist
  • Sean Ryan, Exhibit Specialist

Natural History Museum of Utah

  • Karen DuBroff, Associate Registrar for Loans and Exhibitions
  • Annie T. Lawlor, Assistant Collections Manager
  • Bill Thomas, Preparator

Huntsman Cancer Institute Executive Leadership

  • Mary Beckerle, Chief Executive Officer
  • Don Milligan, Executive Director, Cancer Hospital
  • Ashlee Harrison, Executive Director, Innovation and Transformation
  • Alyson Harding, Director, Support Services, Cancer Hospital

Huntsman Cancer Institute Office of Communications & Public Affairs

Huntsman Cancer Institute Environmental Services

Huntsman Cancer Foundation

  • Pam Bailey, Huntsman Family Registrar
  • Linda Patino, Huntsman Family Registrar

Architectural Nexus

  • Lisa Ramidan, Senior Principal Architect
  • Ryan Bowker, Architect

Nichols Photo Lab


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