NEW YORK, N.Y. (PIX11) – NYC Health + Hospitals now claims the country’s largest public hospital mural program since the 1930s. It includes the culmination of more than two dozen murals throughout its healthcare facilities.
It took nearly three years to beautify the spaces for the Community Mural Project between 2019 and 2021.
Laurie Tisch, founder and president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, said the pandemic enhanced the mission of the project.
“It brings joy, it brings happiness, it brings self-awareness often, and in this case, it brought a sense of community and a sense of working together,” said Tisch.
The Illumination Fund financed 26 murals in facilities throughout the hospital system in all five boroughs. The art is displayed in a new book titled Healing Walls and shows the role that art plays in healing beyond medication and medical procedures.
Arantxa Ximena is the artist behind the mural at Lincoln Hospital in the south Bronx.
“There was a person coming out of surgery that saw the mural and was like, ‘Wow, I never imagined that I was going to see this after all the trauma that I went through,’” Ximena said.
Larissa Trinder, senior director of the Arts in Medicine Program for the hospitals, says the murals were also painted for healthcare staff.
“[It’s] making sure that they are cared for so they can deliver the best care to our patients and families and that involves making sure that they have opportunities through beautiful healing walls every day— eight, 10, 12 hours a day,” Trinder said.
Input from focus groups was implemented when deciding what each community needed. Karen Dixon, chair of the Harlem Community Advisory Board for the hospital system, was part of one of the focus groups.
“We had a great time with it just talking about what ideas we wanted to capture, the legacy,” Dixon said. “And as I look at the murals on this board, it really shows who our city is, the diversity in our city.”
Julia Kravtsov painted a mural with her husband for Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx.
“It was truly [a] unique project because it was [the] first time for us painting murals in such a close collaboration with communities,” Kravtsov said.
Because of the success of the project, the Illumination Fund will underwrite 20 new murals over the next two years.
Healing Walls will be available on Amazon later this year, with all proceeds going to the NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine program.