Nov 12, 2019
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.
Each of the facilities will hold unveiling ceremonies by year’s end to celebrate the community’s hard work and vision. NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan will unveil their mural on November 13 at 10AM.
To learn more about the programs that are a part of NYC Health + Hospitals’ Arts in Medicine, please visit https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/artsinmedicine/.