NYC Health + Hospitals Unveils New Community Mural at NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health
Oct 25, 2023
New York, NY
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, Together We Heal at NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health, was developed by artist Kristy McCarthy 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. Together We Heal 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. The first 26 murals 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.
Together We Heal is a two-part mural that pays homage to the vibrant history and culture of Coney Island. Located in the waiting room of the adult emergency department, the first section of the mural, includes rabbits, which originally inhabited the area and gives Coney Island its name. The mural pays tribute to the hospital’s origins as a modest beachfront first aid station; the hospital’s Hammett Pavilion, which is set for demolition this year; and the newly constructed Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital. Throughout this narrative, depictions of unity and assistance emerge, where children make a sandcastle and healing hands guide an elderly patient towards the hospital entrance. At the heart of the mural stands a compassionate doctor, sheltering her patient beneath an umbrella—a symbol of weathering storms together.
The second section of the mural, located in the waiting room of the pediatric emergency department, portrays an enchanting underwater realm. It nods to the nearby New York Aquarium as a source of tranquility for patients. A mermaid, an iconic figure in Coney Island folklore, gently comforts her child. Surrounding them, turtles, dolphins, and fish gracefully navigate the waters, creating an atmosphere of unity, serenity, and healing.
“Coney Island and its multicultural community are rich in lore and legend,” said Laurie Tisch, founder and president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “Together We Heal celebrates the diversity of the community and the staff’s compassionate care for patients. It will bring joy and solace to all who enter the facility and we are proud to have supported its creation.”
“Artist Kristy McCarthy’s thoughtful inclusion of the beautiful imagery and history that make up our South Brooklyn community is evident in the final version,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Assistant Vice President of Arts in Medicine Larissa Trinder. “Community murals play a significant role in public health by enhancing trust in our system, and further deepening a sense of belonging and pride for everyone who encounter them.”
“We are excited to unveil South Brooklyn Health’s murals, which provided a unique opportunity for our patients, staff, and community to work together to create images highlighting the joy and pride for a neighborhood that many call home,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health Chief Executive Officer Svetlana Lipyanskaya. “Art is a magical portal for healing and has been shown to improve patient outcomes. This project, with its nod to our past and a view to our future, will further solidify the connection between South Brooklyn Health and the communities we serve.”
“I have worked at South Brooklyn Health for over 30 years, and participation in the focus group that helped to create a piece of art will improve the experience of our employees and patients while here, was truly rewarding,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health Patient Experience Officer Laura Grossman. “I am delighted that the we will now finally be able to show the world the latest expression of how South Brooklyn Health cares for all who comes through our doors.”
“The unveiling of the Together We Heal mural is an important milestone in bringing together our community and the hospital,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health Community Advisory Chair Board Rosanne DeGennaro. “It provided hospital staff the opportunity to join with patients, and neighbors to relieve stress and enhance the physical environment of the facility.”
“Working with the staff and medical professionals of NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health was a heartwarming experience and I could clearly see the amount of love and care that they feel for their patients, their community, and for each other,” said Muralist Kristy McCarthy. “With these murals, I hoped to convey that sense of unity and togetherness, while also celebrating South Brooklyn’s rich history and culture. Coming to the hospital can be a scary and upsetting experience for many, but my hope is that these artworks can bring some comfort, inspiration or even delight to patients and families visiting the ER.”
Kristy McCarthy (@dgaleart) is a muralist, teaching artist, and community organizer who paints under the name “D.Gale.” Her art focuses on building community and raising awareness about social and environmental issues. She is a founding member of the Harlem Art Collective and has worked internationally, including in indigenous communities in Peru and Ecuador, where she co-founded an annual public art festival.
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.
About NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health
NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health, including its 371-bed Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital and Health & Wellness Institute, is one of the public health system’s acute care health care campuses that offers general and acute medical care to adults and children. The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital offers modern trauma and emergency care, inpatient services for primary and acute care in general medicine, adult medicine, pediatrics, general surgery, medical and surgical sub-specialties, coronary care, intensive care, obstetrics and gynecology, midwifery, neonatology, critical care, rehabilitation medicine, psychiatry, and behavioral health. Its Health & Wellness Institute with over 40 ambulatory care practices provides patient and caregiver centered primary and specialty care to a primary service area of approximately 875,000 NYC residents of South Brooklyn and the surrounding communities. The hospital has designations as a Certified Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) Center, an Advanced Primary Stroke Center, an accredited Baby-Friendly Hospital, a U.S. News & World Report high performing hospital, a SAFE Center of Excellence under the Sexual Assault Reform Act, Designated AIDS Center (DACs), and Level 2 Perinatal Center.
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 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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.lmtif.org or follow @LMTischFund on Twitter.