In many doctors’ offices, patients may notice art hanging in the various hallways and rooms that help to brighten the area. NC State’s Student Health Center is no different, though students may notice a particular theme in many of the works of art spread throughout the center. Indeed, many of the works present are cross-stitched images of wolves, and the artist behind them can be found closer than they may think.
Dr. Lynne Wirth, a staff physician at the health center, stitched together each of the wolf-inspired cross stitch designs throughout the health center. Since 2011, Wirth has lent her talents not only as a physician, but also as an artist, to the NC State Student Health Center, making designs inspired by the NC State Wolfpack. Crafting has been a part of Wirth’s life since she was a child, having learned how to cross-stitch some time before high school. Along with cross-stitching, she also sews and knits.
“I come from a crafting family,” Wirth said. “My mom is a quilter and does some cross-stitch, my grandmother was a weaver, and my other grandmother did hardanger, which is a Norwegian needlecraft.”
Wirth fondly refers to cross-stitching as her own form of therapy. Both her home and her on-campus office are filled with many of the portraits she has completed throughout the years.
“It’s a good way to decompress at the end of the day,” Wirth said.
Much of the joy she gets from her work is being able to share it with family and friends. Her series of Wolfpack designs even extend beyond the hallways of the Student Health Center.
“For weddings, or babies or any big life event, I tend to do a piece for that,” Wirth said.
She is currently finishing a wolf-inspired piece for a colleague, and is also starting to work on some pieces for a new baby arriving in her family this upcoming March.
Cross-stitch designs usually come from patterns and templates, and when Wirth joined NC State’s Student Health Center, she scoured the internet for wolf designs to help decorate her office. She discovered that premade wolf patterns are a rare find. She eventually found Dyan Allaire, a cross-stitch artist whose work helped inspire the pieces that Wirth has stitched for the Health Center. Allaire creates the patterns through a computer program that turns photographs into cross-stitch patterns.
Patience is not so much a virtue as it is a requirement for individuals wanting to cross-stitch, with each design sometimes taking up to four or five months to complete. Roughly two inches of work can be completed in the span of one Harry Potter movie, as Wirth discovered when she worked on a piece while her family was gearing up to watch the final movie of the series.
The other physicians and nurses at Student Health have their favorites among Wirth’s creations, and tease each other about how many they have in their hallway and about stealing pieces from each other’s hallways to hang in their own.
Wirth’s colleague and friend, Maureen Hession, who is a nurse practitioner at the Student Health Center, spoke about Wirth’s work.
“It shows the loyalty she has to what she does, and I think the students enjoy seeing her work,” Hession said.
Each of her designs are a labor of love. For many of us who are far from home here at NC State, being sick also means being homesick. Wirth’s cross-stitch wolves make the Student Health Center feel a lot more homey and colorful to each student seeking to utilize its services.