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CBS 19: Mural project expands outside of patient rooms at UVA psychiatry unit

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Andrea Trimble (Image by Alan Goffinski)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — A mural project at the University of Virginia Health System’s Adult Inpatient Psychiatry Unit, also known as 5 East, has expanded outside of patient rooms.

According to a release, the unit began a renovation project in 2018 in order to upgrade facilities and adhere to guidelines regarding patient safety, including removing all framed artwork.

Once the renovation was completed, Nurse Manager Bill Russell wanted to find a way to bring art back, so he reached out to George Andrews, a faculty member of the UVA Art Department and a Certified Nursing Assistant who is working on becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor.

The two came up with the idea of murals, starting in the patient rooms and then expanding into the hallways.

The release says 5 East partnered with Alan Goffinski, of the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative and the Charlottesville Mural Project, to develop the work.

“Patients come to 5 East for a variety of reasons,” Russell said. “Here, we hope to create a space where healing can begin, so that folks can get back to their daily lives. One of our underlying philosophies is that we are just one brief stop on a lifelong journey. Just a different neighborhood in Charlottesville, where they will visit, and then move on.”

The release says the Hospital Arts Committee, which is responsible for all of the art installation in UVA Health, approved an initial concept and art for what became the Neighborhood Mural Project.

Patients in the unit have also been involved in deciding what the art would look like.

A grant from the UVA Hospital Auxiliary and the Hospital Arts Committee brought in Bolanle Adeboye who created more than a dozen interactive chalkboard murals in patient rooms.

The release says patients have reported an increased comfort when interacting with hospital staff and a strengthening of the therapeutic alliance thanks to these murals.

Now that the patient room murals are finished, a grant from an anonymous donor has allowed 5 East to begin expanding the project into the rest of the unit.

“It is important to us that the community of Charlottesville be represented, in the art itself but also by having local artists create the pieces,” said Russell.

The release says each of the murals in the hallways will represent neighborhoods and communities from which the patients originate.

These new murals are being created by Andrea Trimble and Jae Johnson, and they are currently painting murals representing the Greenbrier and the 10th and Page neighborhoods.

Russell says the unit would like to have between 15 and 20 hallway and public-area murals.