In a celebration of unity, creativity, and community, NYC Health + Hospitals has revealed the first of nine remarkable murals as part of the Community Mural Project, overseen by the health system’s Arts in Medicine department.
The inaugural mural, titled “We Are Kings,” now adorns the NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County facility. This vibrant masterpiece is the result of artist Jodi Dareal’s collaboration with community members, dedicated staff, and patients.
The project, made possible through the generous support of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, signifies a profound commitment to caring for the Kings County community and represents a beacon of hope in the form of a behavioral health building. At the base of the mural, healthcare workers stand as welcoming symbols to all who enter, emphasizing the equal importance of every role within the hospital and the broader community’s support for the healing process.
Surrounding the central building, the mural depicts individual and collective acts of care, from aiding someone to stand on their own to tending to a healing garden, embodying the spirit of healing and compassion.
The inclusion of a string of beads, representing the vibrant colors of Caribbean cultures, pays homage to the diverse diaspora that comprises the surrounding Flatbush neighborhood.
Laurie Tisch, founder and president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, lauded the initiative, highlighting its role in stimulating creativity, reducing stigma, relieving stress, and strengthening the bonds between healthcare workers, patients, and the community.
She expressed pride in supporting such a transformative project.
Larissa Trinder, NYC Health + Hospitals Assistant Vice President of Arts in Medicine, emphasized the positive impact of large-scale collaborative projects like the Community Mural program on public health, while Jodi Dareal, the artist behind “We Are Kings,” described the honor of painting a mural at her birthplace and the process of creating something beautiful with the hospital community.
Patient and Patient & Family Advisory Council (PFAC) Member Nefertiti McAulay praised the project for providing a positive outlet for mental health and an opportunity to represent their community within the hospital’s walls.
Jodi Dareal, known for her focus on diverse communities, essential issues in the black community, and women’s rights through pop art and comic book realism, created a masterpiece that speaks to the heart of the Kings County community.
This Community Mural Project, which aims to be the largest public hospital mural program since the 1930s, aligns with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) murals commissioned during the Great Depression.
Those historic murals were the genesis of NYC Health + Hospitals’ impressive art collection, which has since grown to over 7,000 pieces of art across various disciplines.
This extensive collection enriches the healthcare environment, inspires creativity, promotes wellness, increases access to the arts, and engages staff.
Crucially, the Community Mural Project provides an opportunity for hospital staff to collaborate, relieve stress, and enhance the physical environment of the facilities. In an era marked by healthcare worker burnout and exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this project carries immense significance for New York City’s healthcare system, particularly in serving low-income, immigrant, and historically marginalized communities.