“Her Legacy Lights The Way” Community Mural Unveiled At NYC Health + Hospitals/McKinney
Inspired by the community, the mural remembers Dr. Susan McKinney, the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree in New York State, and celebrates the pride and joy of many cultures represented at the health facility and in the neighborhood
Seven other NYC Health + Hospitals’ facilities participated in the Community Mural Project and will be unveiling their murals through year's end
Project is a flagship component of NYC Health + Hospitals’ arts-based initiatives, Arts in Medicine, made possible through the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City
NYC Health + Hospitals’ Arts in Medicine program today unveiled a community mural at NYC Health + Hospitals/McKinney. Inspired by the community, the mural remembers Dr. Susan McKinney, the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree in New York State, and celebrates the pride and joy of many cultures represented at the health facility and in the neighborhood. Elements from NYC Health + Hospitals/McKinney are depicted in the art, from tomato plants, which the residents harvest, to popular activities they participate in and stories from the neighborhood. Led by artist Peach Tao, the concept of the mural was developed by engaging patients, staff, and local community residents through focus groups, and later painted in collaboration with the community during a designated paint party. Seven other NYC Health + Hospitals’ facilities participated in the Community Mural Project and will be unveiling their murals through year’s end. 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.
“Art has the power to bring communities together, as demonstrated by the vibrant new mural local artists created in collaboration with NYC Health + Hospitals’ staff and patients,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “This collaborative art piece celebrates the multiethnic history of the neighborhood while paying tribute to a pioneer who made our city a better place. We look forward to continuing this work as we create more thoughtful, healing spaces across the city.”
“The collaborative mural-making process has been a positive experience for our NYC Health + Hospitals’ patients, residents, staff and surrounding neighborhood,” said Eric Wei, MD, MBA, Vice President and Chief Quality Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals, and Chair of the Art Advisory Council. “Each mural tells a story of the individuals and their diverse cultures represented by its community, as well as the history behind the NYC Health + Hospitals facility, such as the depiction of Dr. Susan McKinney and her legacy as a trailblazer.”
“Decades of research have shown that the arts are a powerful tool in healing. We, at the Illumination Fund, are proud to support the Arts in Medicine program at NYC Health + Hospitals,” said Laurie Tisch, Founder and President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “It has been a privilege to work with the artists, patients, community leaders and healthcare professionals involved in the creation of these amazing murals, now available for everyone to enjoy.”
The collaborative mural-making process is a tool to encourage creativity, build trust and engagement between the healthcare facility and their communities, reduce stigma, and foster pride in the public health system’s facilities through community-building activities, while promoting greater neighborhood wellness. Nine artists led the collaborative mural process at eight NYC Health + Hospitals’ facilities, which included:
“It’s been an exhilarating experience to dive into and explore stories the residents shared with me and the rich diversity of the community around them, which ultimately inspired the concept for the mural,” said Peach Tao, lead artist for the NYC Health + Hospitals/McKinney mural. “My goal throughout this process was to capture their spirits as best I could and produce a piece of art that will contribute to their continued healing and well-being.”
“I want to commend the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City for their advocacy to make the “Her Legacy Lights the Way” community mural a reality. As the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree in New York State, Dr. Susan McKinney has a powerful legacy in this community, and it is only right that her life’s work is memorialized through this very special piece of artwork,” said Councilmember Mathieu Eugene. I want to thank artist Peach Tao, the patients and staff of Susan McKinney, and community members for their creativity and dedication to beautifying this wonderful facility. It is my hope that by working together, we will continue to collaborate on community projects that honor the legacies of our city’s historic figures.”
The 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 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 is the largest public health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 42,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or Twitter at @NYCHealthSystem.
About the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund is a New York City-based foundation that strives to improve access and opportunity for all New Yorkers and foster healthy and vibrant communities. Founded in 2007 by philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch, the Illumination Fund plays an active role in supporting innovative approaches across a range of issues—increasing access to healthy food, building healthy communities, supporting economic opportunity and ensuring that arts and arts education are accessible to all. In 2018, the Illumination Fund launched Arts in Health, a $10-million-dollar, multi-year initiative to support organizations working on health issues that impact New York communities and that emphasize the arts as a tool for healing and building understanding. The areas of focus include addressing mental health stigma, trauma, and aging-related diseases. For more information, visit www.thelmtif.org/ or follow @LMTischFund on Twitter.