At that moment she felt at peace, and was happy that her artwork was able to capture the energy and message that the hospital’s staff and workers wanted to communicate.
“It’s what I would love to do for the rest of my life and what art is truly about,” Roberts said. “It’s what care and healing are truly about.”
The mural, which features the words “Woodhull Heals” beside images of health care workers and New Yorkers of different backgrounds, was created as part of the Community Murals Project, launched last year by NYC Health+Hospitals’ Art in Medicine program.
Roberts was chosen to create the mural from a pool of nearly 250 applicants. After being selected in February, she conducted virtual meetings with hospital staff to come up with the concept and theme of the artwork.
Last month, Woodhull Hospital invited community members, staff, patients and elected officials to a “paint party” to complete the mural. Two weeks later, the mural was finally revealed.
Gregory Calliste, CEO of Woodhull Hospital, said the mural not only beautifies the building, but also demonstrates the hospital’s significance as a “healing environment for this community.”
“The end product, I believe, is truly magnificent,” he said. “It’s a masterpiece, one that we will all be proud of.”
The Arts in Medicine program is made possible through the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, as well as the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. At the unveiling ceremony, Tisch said the Illumination Fund’s mission is to foster access and opportunity for all New Yorkers.
In 2018, the organization launched its Arts in Health initiative, a multi-million dollar, multi-year grants program that supports organizations that use the arts as a tool of healing. Tisch said the program places an emphasis on addressing trauma, stigma and age-related disease.
The initiative has now created 17 total murals at the city’s public hospitals system, making it the largest mural project in any public hospital system since the Works Progress Administration of the 1930s.
“These murals are aimed at fostering pride in the hospital, and providing beauty, comfort and solace for all,” Tisch said. “It was so needed then, but even more so now.”
Local elected officials, including State Senator Julia Salazar, Assemblywoman Maritza Davila and Councilman Robert Cornegy attended the unveiling ceremony. Salazar, who also attended the paint party, said the mural is “truly representative” of the diversity and vibrancy of Brooklyn’s communities.
“It was therapeutic and joyful to take part in it,” she said. “It’s important to emphasize the role of arts in healing.”
Roberts, who came to Brooklyn in 2009 to attend the Pratt Institute, said she looks forward to continuing her artistry and having an impact globally.
“My work is all about healing and uncovering voices of the unheard,” she said. “To just push that agenda forward in a beautiful, artful way.”