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NYC Health + Hospitals Unveils New Community Mural at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler

The Community Mural Project is believed to be the country’s largest public hospital mural program since the 1930s

The nine new murals will build on the 26 murals created in the first wave of the project

Dec 01, 2023

Healing in Community, the new mural at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler by artist Rachel Fawn Alban, features portraits of 34 members of the Coler community.

NYC Health + Hospitals today unveiled a new mural as part of the Community Mural Project, run by the health system’s Arts in Medicine department. Today’s mural, Healing in Community at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler, was developed by artist Rachel Fawn Alban through a series of photography workshops with community members, staff and patients. Healing in Community is one of nine new murals that have been created this year, building on the 26 murals created in the first wave of the Community Mural Project, which are featured in a new book, Healing Walls: New York City Health + Hospitals Community Mural Project 2019-2021. This program is made possible through the generous support of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

Healing in Community is a tribute to the invaluable contributions of each person within the Coler community. Artist Rachel Fawn Alban conducted a series of visits at the facility engaging residents, volunteers, and staff in hands-on photography workshops. The culmination is a photomural featuring portraits of 34 members of the Coler community.

“Coler is an important long-term care and rehab facility in New York City’s public health system,” said Rick Luftglass, executive director of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “This beautiful mural will provide joy and solace to everyone who lives at Coler and to all who visit. This is the first photo mural in the growing array of community murals throughout NYC Health + Hospitals, and we are proud to have supported its creation.”

“Artists play a critical role in public health,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Assistant Vice President of Arts in Medicine Larissa Trinder. “Our community mural artist, Rachel Fawn Alban, worked collaboratively with staff and residents to create a beautiful and lasting experience for their home, NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler. Her medium of using photos to layer in a narrative about life’s journey has left a meaningful and lasting impact on our staff and residents.”

NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler Resident Ramon Medina looks at his portrait in the new mural.

“These are the faces of Coler! This mural represents our diversity among professional staff and residents who embody strength, kindness, resilience and hope; essential elements in making our shared home the most unique place in the city,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler Chief Executive Officer Stephen Catullo, LNHA. “With this creative piece, community artist, Rachel Fawn Alban, has captured the essence of Coler’s spirit. These portraits of residents, clinicians, and many others, including our in-resident therapy dog, Momo, are all reminders that it takes a village to create a reliable support system built on trust, empathy and respect.”

“It has been an honor to work on this mural,” said muralist Rachel Fawn Alban. “I really enjoyed spending time on Roosevelt Island and getting to know everyone here during our photography workshops. It was important to me that the participants have their own meaningful, hands-on creative experiences with photography. The workshops also helped us develop familiarity and trust by the time I did the portraits. I think that resulted in stronger images and deeper engagement with the mural process and with each other. I am filled with gratitude to be a part of the Community Mural Project. I hope Healing in Community inspires warm feelings, pride, and connection for the people who live and work here every day.”

Healing in Community, the new mural at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler by artist Rachel Fawn Alban, features portraits of 34 members of the Coler community.

Rachel Fawn Alban (@fawn_photos), based in Newark, NJ, is a photographer, writer, and educator whose photography is informed by her background in Art Therapy. Her portrait-making approach is characterized by collaboration, a focus on healing, and sensitivity to trauma. She is primarily known for documenting public art and collaborating with visual artists.

The Community Mural Project is believed to be the country’s largest public hospital mural program since the 1930s, when the depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) commissioned murals in public buildings, including virtually every hospital in New York City’s public healthcare system. The WPA murals were the start of NYC Health + Hospitals art collection, which now is the city’s largest public art collection and includes more than 7,000 pieces of art of multiple disciplines. The art collection is used to enhance the healthcare environment, inspire creativity, promote wellness, increase access to the arts, and engage staff.

The Community Mural Project creates opportunities for hospital staff to collaborate with each other and with neighbors, relieve stress, and enhance the physical environment of the facilities. Healthcare worker burnout is a national health crisis, and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic has created mental health challenges across New York City, especially in low-income, immigrant and historically excluded communities, which are significant patient populations for NYC Health + Hospitals.


MEDIA CONTACT: 212-788-3339; PressOffice@nychhc.org

About NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler
NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler is an 815-bed skilled nursing facility located in Roosevelt Island, providing comprehensive skilled nursing, medical and rehabilitative care for more than 70 years. NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler is committed to serving New York City and the surrounding communities, while setting an example as a leader in memory care programming and rehabilitation. Rated as a “Best Nursing Home” by Newsweek, with a ranking of 5th best in New York State,the facility earned a Five-Star CMS rating which designates them among the top 10 percent of skilled nursing facilities in the country. The facility also ranks in the top 1st quintile in the New York State Department of Health Nursing Home Quality Pool.

About NYC Health + Hospitals’ Arts in Medicine Department
The Arts in Medicine department at NYC Health + Hospitals seeks to foster the emotional well-being and promote healing and wellness for all patients and their families, employees, and the greater community by utilizing the arts, including literary, visual, and performing arts throughout the health care system. In addition to managing the system’s significant visual arts collection, the Arts in Medicine department encourages evidenced based practices and provides technical assistance to all of the system’s health care facilities and clinics. This is accomplished by combining artistic innovation and education into a comprehensive health care continuum that supports the healing benefits of the arts. For more information, visit https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/artsinmedicine/.

About NYC Health + Hospitals
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 43,000 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 FacebookTwitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund is a New York City-based foundation that aims to improve access and opportunity for all New Yorkers and foster healthy and vibrant communities. In 2018, the Illumination Fund launched Arts in Health, a multi-year initiative to support organizations utilizing the arts as a tool for healing and building understanding in communities across New York City. The initiative’s areas of focus are stigma, trauma and aging-related diseases as well as supporting organizations addressing mental health in communities disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019 the Illumination Fund supported the creation of NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine department, expanding programs serving health care staff, patients, and communities in sites across the City. For more information, visit www.lmtif.org or follow @LMTischFund on Twitter.