In 2019 and 2020, I led the Community Mural initiative at NYC Health + Hospitals, resulting in 17 new murals across the public health system's facilities.
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.
Through engaging with healthcare staff, patients, and community stakeholders, we aimed to develop and install site specific murals that inspire pride, build trust, and increase engagement.
“Incorporating art in medicine encourages a whole person’s approach to healing. With vibrant expressions of color, imagination and culturally meaningful symbols, the community murals will produce, naturally, those surges of pleasure and distraction that reduce pain and frustration. In addition to bringing communities and community members together, these murals will help provide greater insight into the lives and concerns of community residents,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “We are proud to promote this work with talented artists across the city, and look forward to creating more thoughtful and emotionally nourishing spaces in our communities.”
Listen, Engage, Collaborate, Create
We held an RFQ and selected artists who had experience working with communities and translating their visions and ideas into visual art.
Community Engagement Days were held at the facilities to engage patients, community, and staff; gather feedback on mural themes; and garner excitement about participating in Focus Groups and Paint Parties.
We brought together key stakeholders from the community, patients, and healthcare staff to participate in Focus Groups to determine themes, imagery, and tone of the murals. Through this iterative process, the artists were able to honor the participants' ideas while maintaining their own artistic voice and style.
Final mural designs were ghost-printed on mural cloth in large panels, setting the stage for our Community Paint Parties: events where everyone was invited to help paint the mural. The panels are painted on table-tops, making the events accessible for all.
Mural installations were executed through collaborations with varied hospital departments including executive leadership, engineering, and environmental services.
Partnering with hospital public affairs departments, Unveilings were held to celebrate the new murals at each facility.
By the numbers:
16 public hospitals and clinics
650+ participants in Engagement Days, Focus Groups, and Paint Parties
95 – 99% of participants reported that the events made them more likely to choose Health + Hospitals for care in the future, made them proud to have the hospital in their community, and made them feel like “a part of the team."