We use cookies to improve your experience on our site. Please accept the Privacy Policy to continue.

Press Releases

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

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

Jan 25, 2024

NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem CEO Georges Leconte, artist Tijay Mohammed, founder and president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund Laurie Tisch, and others celebrate the new mural at NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem

New York — 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. The mural, Healing Portraits at NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem, was developed by artist Tijay Mohammed through a series of focus groups with community members, staff and patients and brought to life at a paint party where the community was invited to paint the mural together. Healing Portraits is one of nine new murals that have been created in the past 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. A video of the artist and members of the community speaking about the mural is available here. This program is made possible through the generous support of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

Healing Portraits pays homage to the vibrant Harlem community and medical pioneers who have left an indelible mark on Harlem. Notable figures include Ronald H. Brown, the first black US Secretary of Commerce and Chair of the Democratic National Committee, whose name graces one of the pavilions at Harlem Hospital. Dr. Louis T. Wright, the first African American physician on Harlem Hospital’s staff, and Dr. Samuel L. Kountz, an innovator in organ transplants, are also featured. The lower left panel celebrates Dr. Muriel Petioni, a prominent Harlem physician and activist, while elements such as a food truck, museum, and religious symbols reflect the neighborhood’s rich diversity and spirit of support. The central top panel showcases pediatric care, nurturing, and community healing, while the center-bottom panel depicts children, musical notes, and Taino symbols, emphasizing the neighborhood’s diversity and unity. To the right, the lower panel commemorates the pivotal moment when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was admitted to Harlem Hospital after being stabbed, alongside the three doctors who provided his care, highlighting the values of non-violence and unity. Healing Portraits stands as a powerful symbol of the community’s resilience and its dedication to healing, unity, and a brighter future.

“NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem provides essential healthcare services to all who need them regardless of their circumstances,” said Laurie Tisch, founder and president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “Tijay Mohammed’s new mural Healing Portraits joins murals at Harlem Hospital created as part of NYC Health + Hospitals’ Community Mural program as well as important WPA murals dating back to the 1930s. It celebrates historic figures in Harlem as well as the extraordinary diversity of the community. Healing Portraits will bolster pride in the neighborhood and hospital and bring joy and comfort to everyone who sees it. We are proud to have supported its creation.”

“Artist Tijay Mohammed incorporated the diverse ideas and experiences of the Harlem community in this mural,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Assistant Vice President of Arts in Medicine Larissa Trinder. “Healing Portraits reflects a world rich in the arts and sciences. It includes spiritual and political leaders, children and symbols that quite literally create an immersive experience for everyone that walks into the hospital. The unique el fresco nature of this work guides one’s vision to the sky and creates hope for all who pass through.”

“NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem stands tall as a Beacon of Light in the Harlem Community,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem CEO Georges Leconte. “As you walk through the doors of the Ronald H. Brown Pavilion, you cannot help but experience the power of the murals, which tell the story of Harlem’s rich culture and heritage with beautiful depictions of notable Harlem legends and popular landmarks. Every patient can see themselves in the diverse representations throughout each panel. Art is healing! Knowing that our patients get to gaze upon the beauty of these remarkable murals while visiting our facility gives me the assurance that every single patient’s needs will be met thoroughly because art and medicine have healing power.”

“I am a resident of Harlem who receives care at NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem Community Advisory Board 1st Vice Chair Abena Smith. “I am very excited about the unveiling of this precious mural highlighting historical figures germane to Harlem Hospital and the community-at-large. It was my pleasure to participate in the focus groups as the artwork was being developed. I also attended the paint party and I am officially a part of that piece of art. I can attest to how much it means for patients to see and experience the beauty of the mural as they enter the Ronald H. Brown building to receive healthcare services.”

“The process of creating this piece is nutrition, from listening to the focus group to the community paint party,” said artist Tijay Mohammed. “I hope this mural serves as a healing talisman for Harlem and beyond.”

Healing Portraits at NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem by artist Tijay Mohammed

Tijay Mohammed (@artoftijay) is a Bronx-based artist and teacher. His work is inspired by his Ghanaian heritage, and he maintains a studio in Yonkers and in Ghana. He has exhibited his works nationally and internationally, and also organizes workshops and community-based projects for museums, youth groups, and schools.

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/Harlem
NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem is a 268-bed hospital that provides a broad array of preventive, primary and acute care services including general medicine and medical subspecialties, general surgery and surgical subspecialties, infectious diseases, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and neonatology, critical care, imaging, radiology and nuclear medicine, rehabilitation medicine, psychiatry and substance abuse services, dental and oral surgery, physical, speech and occupational therapies. They are an Area-Wide Burn Center and Level II Trauma, with Centers of Excellence for Bariatric Surgery, Breast Imaging and Sexual Assault Forensics, a designated Stroke and AIDS Center, a World Health Organization’s UNICEF Designated Baby Friendly. For more information, visit https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/locations/harlem/

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.