Isabel Garcia

As part of NYC Health+Hospitals’ Arts in Medicine program, nine female artists will lead community-based mural projects at eight hospitals throughout New York City starting August 1. The new Community Murals Project, made possible by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, aims to encourage creativity and build trust and engagement between NYC hospitals and their communities. 

By incorporating art in medicine it can alter the approach to healing, said First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray, in a press release. Vibrant colors, the imagination running wild, meaningful stories told through visual arts can all distract and reduce pain and frustration one might experience in a hospital, whether sick or nervously anticipating results in the waiting room.

Project Title:  Threading A Dream.

Nancy Saleme, who is based in Williamsburg, along with Patricia Cazorla, will be working with a hospital in Bellevue. Collaborating since 2010, Saleme and Cazorla  are a sculptor and painter duo with a background in creating public art that engages people with their surroundings.

Their artwork consists of multimedia drawings translated into sculptures and 3D murals on flat areas, like walls.  “We find our passion in public art and strongly believe that art can widen perspective and educate a community,” they said in a statement. “Our main goal is to create work that is accessible and empowering for all.” 

Bushwick-based artist, Kelie Bowman, will be collaborating with a hospital in Coney Island. “I’m definitely looking toward projects that have outreach to a more general public, and this is such a great combination of both my mural practice and art organization skills,” says Bowman, who has a background in urban mural making and is a co-founder and director of Cinders Gallery, a project-focused non-profit art organization based in Brooklyn.   

Bowman describes her work as sacred geometry similar to a kaleidoscope. She plans to speak with the hospital community about patterns and colors that excite them and relate to their heritage.  “I think intrinsically murals are very healing,” says Bowman. “Obviously hospitals can be really intense spaces and art can definitely bring beauty to a space that can often be really heavy.”

Mural by Kelie Bowman.

Eric Wei, MD, MBA, Vice President and Chief Quality Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals, and Chair of the Art Advisory Council, points out how the arts promote healing in many ways. “The arts help celebrate shared history and culture, promote physical healing, reduce stress and support mental health,” he said in a press release. “With the Community Murals Project and the other programs in our Arts in Medicine initiative we’re able to expand our long tradition of arts in healthcare to more NYC Health + Hospitals’ patients, staff and neighborhoods.”

By creating this initiative NYC Health + Hospitals hope to bring a positive cultural and social experience and relief at life’s scariest moments. 

Follow NYC Health + Hospitals, Nancy Saleme, Kelie Bowman on Instagram.

Cover photo courtesy of Kelie Bowman.

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