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  • Writer's pictureAllison Newsome

Arts Course Donates Mural to Hospital

Nine-piece ceramic mural brightens hospital hallway

By Kerry M. Flynn, Crimson Staff Writer January 26, 2012

For six months, the students of the Harvard Ceramics Program constructed a nine-piece mural to decorate the bare walls of a local hospital. On Wednesday night, the artists and their friends gathered to admire the recently-installed work. “This whole hallway was empty and crying out for some art,” said Allison Newsome, a teacher in the ceramics program at Harvard’s Office for the Arts.

The new mural, comprised of ceramic slabs of different shapes and designs, will now be a permanent fixture of the hallway outside the Women’s Health Center at the Cambridge Health Alliance’s hospital in Cambridge, which is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate. The CHA provides health care for the residents of the northern greater Boston area. The murals were created and donated by students in Newsome’s course last spring. Newsome, who has donated her own work to local hospitals in the past, created the course hoping that her students’ contribution would bring cheer to patients. Each artist in the class chose a life-affirming message for his or her design. Designs included hot air balloons, trees, doves, and fish.

At the Wednesday night showing, admirers strolled up and down the hallway, pausing to more closely examine a particular piece. Many ran their hands along the grooves of the earth-toned ceramics.

“It’s a great addition to the ambiance,” said Allison Bayer, acting chief executive officer of the CHA. “There’s a very organic feeling, a very peaceful feeling.” Students used high-quality indigenous clay donated by the Stiles and Hart Brick Company, a local historic brick manufacturer, to create a heart in the center of each piece. “Each one means something different,” said Pam Ward, a student in Newsome’s class. Stephanie Osser, another student, crafted a piece that features three children, two playing musical instruments and the other using a rolling pin. The words to the classic Louis Armstrong song “What a Wonderful World” grace the bottom of the mural. Ward recalled the collaborative effort required to make the mural. Each component weighed 150 pounds, requiring multiple people to move and lift each piece. “There was a great sense of community,” Ward said. “We couldn’t have done this individually.”

—Staff writer Kerry M. Flynn can be reached at

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