As the MGH prepares to recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month this May, a newly formed group of staff are working to plan events that celebrate diversity and empower the AAPI community.
Daniel Chonde, MD, PhD
The way ProBlak’s art has activated and celebrated diverse communities and cultures inspired us to reexamine the hospital's role in the community.
Executive Director, Peoples' heART
A new art mural commissioned by Massachusetts General Hospital and created by artist ProBlak seeks to depict resiliency, hope and community according to Peoples' heART executive director Daniel Chonde, MD, PhD.
ProBlak is a Roxbury-based muralist and community advocate who was influenced by his upbringing in Roxbury during the Hip-Hop Golden Age. He sees graffiti as a form of self-expression, and art as a tool to bring his vision of beautifying the predominantly Black and brown communities of Boston to life. The mural, entitled “The People's heART Project” is hanging in the Yawkey building mezzanine and depicts a powerful Black female healthcare worker alongside a beating heart with Electrocardiogram (ECG) waves—a tribute to the healthcare workers who have selflessly cared for patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The People's heART project is an initiative spearheaded by Chonde and Meg Carleton, LMHC, ATR-BC, and supported in-part by MGH Equity and Community Health, which focuses on reimagining healthcare spaces and showcasing artwork created by and for the all members of the community.
The painting's prominence in the hospital hallways is part an effort to better reflect the hospital’s rich diversity of patients, health care staff, and communities. Launched by MGH in the fall of 2020, this initiative aims to actively promote and create a diverse and inclusive environment for patients, staff and the community.
“We at MGH are committed to doing everything we can so our patients, our communities, our caregivers, and our entire workforce feel welcome, included, valued and seen. The mural “The People's heART Project” is just one example of how we are leveraging art to achieve this goal, along with other efforts that include literature, music and even food,” says Joseph Betancourt, MD, MPH, senior vice president of equity and community health at Massachusetts General Hospital
A multidisciplinary committee at MGH provided recommendations and feedback on key messages and proposals for physical and virtual spaces activities. The committee has since launched an arts, culture and music initiative to make the MGH diverse community feel more valued, heard, represented and included.
"The way ProBlak’s art has activated and celebrated diverse communities and cultures inspired us to reexamine the hospital's role in the community," Chonde says. "And how [as a hospital] we can take an active role in addressing the social determinants of health, which are known as the conditions in the environment where people are born, live, learn, work, play, among others that can affect the health and overall quality of life of an individual."
"Today, many healthcare providers come from Black and brown communities and have experienced the same struggles and harsh realities that continue to drive these communities away from seeking care," continues Chonde. This art piece hopes to resonate with communities so that they can see themselves represented and recognize that MGH is a safe space for them to seek care. ProBlak’s mural symbolizes the open door that MGH has for all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, background, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or gender.
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