Former Garden City resident Jim Riley says that when he has visited the new mural hung near the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at NYU Winthrop that he commissioned with his wife, Ellen, he notices visitors and staff often stopping to look at the beautiful artwork and comment on it.
A new mural, commissioned by longtime NYU Winthrop supporters Jim and Ellen Riley, depicts the history of medicine.
“That was the whole idea,” said Mr. Riley, who now lives in Manhattan. “Maybe it can take their mind off of something diffi- cult for a moment.”
The Rileys, whose four daughters were all born at NYU Winthrop, are longtime supporters of the Hospital and Mr. Riley is a former Board Director. When considering their next philanthropic contribution, Mr. Riley recalled reading about studies that showed artwork can help inspire positive thinking and be therapeutic not only for patients, but for people who work in the hospital.
“We think it’s important as a family to be engaged in the community, and we have a 35 plus year relationship with NYU Winthrop,” said Mr. Riley of the support he and his wife have bestowed on the Hospital. “We thought this would be another way to give back – not only to the patients, but to the nurses and doctors who have provided great care for us.”
To achieve the vision they had in mind, the Rileys turned to Philip Jordan, a Huntington-based artist they have worked with for more than ten years. Mr. Jordan has created artwork for their home.
“It was a challenge for me to combine art and science together and it took months of research just to wrap my head around all the deep history of medicine,” said Mr. Jordan, who took out library books and spent time on the internet doing research. “I thought a mural strictly historical would be too boring, so I added elements of fantasy and color in collage form to breathe interest into the historical aspects of medicine and NYU Winthrop’s role as a leader in the healthcare community.”
The colorful mural, which is 9 feet high by 32 feet long and hangs in a sunlit hallway across from a bustling elevator bank, close to the New Life Center for labor and delivery on the main floor of the Hospital, is a walk through the history of medicine. It depicts some of the milestones in medical history, along with healthy lifestyle choices – such as a person jogging, and children eating a color- ful meal of fruits and vegetables in a park. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine and author of the Hippocratic Oath, is fea- tured on the far left of the mural; toward the right is Florence Nightingale, the famed nurse and pioneer of modern nursing; along with many other positive medical scenes, such as parents welcoming the birth of a child. The mural encapsulates thousands of years of medicine from around the world, includ- ing eastern traditions like acupuncture, yoga and more.
In total, from initial talks, to sketches and painting and completion, the mural took about nine months to create. “I hope it makes people happy when they see it, and helps them get rid of some of the worries that come with being in a hospital,” said Mr. Jordan, calling the mural a “synthesis of art and science.” “I hope the staff too gets a little education and enjoyment out of it.”
“We have been graced by the regard, dedication and support that Mr. and Mrs. Riley have given us. Their belief in the importance of medicine, as conveyed here through the impactful vehicle of art, is truly representative of their vision and compassion for our Hospital and those who benefit from it,” said E. Ramone Segree, Vice President of Development at NYU Winthrop.