Arts in Medicine Program Selects Nine Artists to Lead Hospital-Based Community Murals Project

Project uses a collaborative mural making process to encourage creativity, lower stress, build trust and increase engagement between the hospitals and members of their surrounding communities

Jul 18, 2019

New York, NY

NYC Health + Hospitals’ Arts in Medicine program today announced that it has selected nine artists to lead the community-based mural projects at eight hospitals across New York City. The artists, chosen from more than 100 applications, will engage patients, staff, and local community residents to create an integrated internal or external mural at NYC Health + Hospitals facilities. Each collaboration will occur between August 1 and December 31, 2019. The collaborative mural-making process is a tool to encourage creativity, build trust and engagement between the hospitals and their communities, reduce stigma, and foster pride in the hospitals through community-building activities. The project is a flagship component of NYC Health + Hospitals’ arts-based initiatives, made possible through the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

“Incorporating art in medicine encourages a whole person’s approach to healing. With vibrant expressions of color, imagination and culturally meaningful symbols, the community murals will produce, naturally, those surges of pleasure and distraction that reduce pain and frustration. In addition to bringing communities and community members together, these murals will help provide greater insight into the lives and concerns of community residents,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “We are proud to promote this work with talented artists across the city, and look forward to creating more thoughtful and emotionally nourishing spaces in our communities.”

“It is clear from decades of research that the arts promote healing in many important ways. The arts help celebrate shared history and culture, promote physical healing, reduce stress and support mental health,” said Eric Wei, MD, MBA, Vice President and Chief Quality Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals, and Chair of the Art Advisory Council. “With the Community Murals Project and the other programs in our Arts in Medicine initiative we’re able to expand our long tradition of arts in healthcare to more NYC Health + Hospitals’ patients, staff and neighborhoods.

“The Arts in Medicine Community Murals Project is much more than an art installation in our hospitals,” said Dave Chokshi, MD, MSc, FACP, Vice President and Chief Population Health Officer at NYC Health + Hospitals, and Co-Chair of the Art Advisory Council. “We’re engaging patients, staff and local residents to participate in the mural painting process, emphasizing NYC Health + Hospitals’ focus on community building and partnerships.”

“NYC Health + Hospitals is in the vanguard of hospitals in America utilizing art as a tool in healing,” said Laurie Tisch, Founder and President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “We are proud to partner with NYC Health + Hospitals and the Mayor’s Fund to bring eight more murals to communities throughout New York this year. The murals and the collaborative process to create them not only increase community engagement and improve patients’ experiences, they are instrumental in creating a more positive work environment for the frontline staff and health care workers who face enormous pressure every day. These murals will be a lasting testament to the power of art to bring communities together, reduce stigma and improve lives.”

The artists and their assigned NYC Health + Hospitals facilities are:

The artists were selected through a rigorous process. Criteria included:

  • Demonstration of prior collaborative community engagement
  • Artistic excellence through a portfolio review
  • Understanding of how to work with materials suitable for a healthcare setting
  • Application of one of four proposed central themes, which included Honoring the Past, Transforming the Future; Joyful: Aesthetic of Joy; Healing Community; and Together as One
  • An interview with members of the selection committee

The new Community Murals Project builds upon a mural tradition that started in the 1930s when the depression-era Works Progress Administration supported the creation of hundreds of murals across New York City’s public hospitals, and that continued decades later with murals by world-famous artists such as Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf. The Community Murals Project will connect artists, local community members and hospital staff to re-imagine hospitals and promote greater neighborhood wellness.

The Community Murals Project is made possible with a grant from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. The fund awarded NYC Health + Hospitals a total of $1.5 million in February 2019 to expand programs serving health care staff, patients, and communities in sites across the City. The grant also allows NYC Health + Hospitals to launch new programs that use the arts as a resource to promote employee wellness and resilience and to combat compassion fatigue.

The Arts in Medicine program at NYC Health + Hospitals seeks to foster the emotional well-being, promote healing, wellness, and engagement of patients, families, employees, and the greater health system’s community by integrating all disciplines of the arts such as literary, visual and performing arts throughout the public hospital system.

NYC Health + Hospitals curates the largest public art collection in New York City and is committed to preserving more than 5,000 works of art and making them accessible to the public. The history of the art collection dates back to the 1930s, when the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project hired artists to create works for government buildings. NYC Health + Hospitals was the fortunate recipient of approximately 60 mural panels. Today, the organization recognizes the historic and cultural significance of these murals and works to preserve them.

Community Mural

Continuing the tradition established in the 1930s the Work Progress Administration supported hundreds of murals across New York City’s public hospitals, community murals leverage artists and local community members to re-imagine hospitals and promote greater neighborhood wellness. Mural artists will engage with patients, staff, and local residents to create an integrated internal or external mural at selected NYC Health + Hospitals facilities, developing cultural ties between artists, patients, staff, and local residents.

To learn more about the programs that are a part of NYC Health + Hospitals’ Arts in Medicine, please visit https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/artsinmedicine/.


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