Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital Murals
As a tribute to healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, I painted a series of murals throughout the employee parking decks at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
In early 2021, a former hospital chaplain approached me about the project. She noticed that the stairwells in the employee parking deck became littered with masks, gloves, and temp check stickers during the pandemic, so she had the idea to commission an artist to paint murals there. The artwork would serve as a more uplifting transition to and from work for hospital staff members.
I worked closely with hospital leadership throughout the entire project. We began with the concept of gratitude in mind since it is a feeling that benefits well-being. We also wanted to involve the hospital employees in the mural process, so we decided to survey the staff and hold a meeting about the murals.
For the survey, I wrote up a series of questions for the staff members to answer. I intended to provoke reflection, introspection, and gratitude with the questions. My goal was to help elevate the employees' perspectives and experience of themselves and their work.
Overall feedback from the survey was great, but the thing that really caught my attention was the strong sense of family and community there. So I decided to combine the theme of “gratitude” with “family” for the mural designs.
To demonstrate the concepts of gratitude and family, the design for the largest wall features a sacred heart with two roses and the phrase “Grateful for Each Other.” This wall is located at the entrance to the parking deck, and can be seen from the Emory Winship Cancer Institute lobby.
The two smaller walls are located inside the parking deck stairwell. Each mural features a bluebird carrying ribbon with text on it. The first one says “We Are One” and the second one says “Family.” I designed them so that the text can be read as one statement while descending the staircase. They can also stand alone and still make sense.
Mural Blessing Ceremony
Once completed, the murals were very well-received by the hospital staff and management team, and were also featured in local news media.
One of my favorite parts of the entire project was the Mural Blessing Ceremony. Hospital leadership and the mural project team gathered to commemorate the project and hear me talk about the mural symbolism. The hospital priest blessed the walls with holy water and a rose, which was very special for me and something I'll never forget!
The project was so well-received that the hospital asked me to come back and paint another round of murals in a separate parking deck. These were completed one year later during the summer of 2022.
While Phase 1 murals are based more on community and teamwork, the theme for Phase 2 is centered around the contributions of each healthcare worker as an individual. The first mural design with the hands and butterflies celebrates the gifts of the healer. This mural is located just inside the main entrance of the employee parking deck.
The second mural with the tree is located within the stairwell and symbolizes the process of personal growth that one must go through in order to become a true force for good in the world.
Stay tuned for Phase 3!