Mural to honour healthcare workers highlights both positive and negative emotions

EDMONTON — A mural showcasing both the positive and negative emotions that front line workers have experienced during the health crises is nearing completion.

The art piece features a collection of words that healthcare workers associate with their experience during the pandemic and will be featured in the McMullen Gallery at the University of Alberta hospital.

Local artist AJA Louden is tackling the project and spoke about the creative process behind the piece.

“We were able to design a process that connected directly with the healthcare workers and really kind of captured their experiences and impressions of this whole pandemic. So some positive, some negative and we’re trying honour that in our work.”

Louden added that he works a lot with communities and was excited to give a voice to healthcare workers.

“The opportunity to make a community feel seen and feel heard at a time like this when they’re under a lot of stress and pressure felt valuable to me and it’s something that I’m very grateful to be able to be a part of.”

Tyler Sherard, the executive director of Friends of University Hospitals and McMullen Gallery, told CTV Edmonton that the artwork was coming together just as he’d envisioned it when they reached out to Louden.

“When you see the piece there’s really this balance or almost conflict between the positive and negative words that came out in the survey and yeah, I think it’s looking really amazing.”

Words such as exhausted, mercurial, togetherness and collaboration came up when consulting front line workers about their emotions during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It was really a balance between some of these really challenging emotions that people are working through and then some of the hopes, some of the light at the end of the tunnel that people are experiencing,” Louden noted.

The painting is expected to take between 30-40 hours to complete before it is installed in the gallery on Sunday. The space is currently being turned into a lounge space for hospital staff.

“Just to help see them through, you know, the last bits of the pandemic,” Sherard said.

The piece will not be available to the general public until after restrictions on hospital visits ease. However it is expected to make its way to the hospitals public art gallery eventually. 

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