Student artists’ mural celebrates vaccine milestone at Reggie Lewis Center
In celebration of administering 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine shots at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, CIC Health commissioned a mural by two Roxbury Community College student artists. “Stepping Up for Vaccination: A Live Art Installation” brought excitement and beauty to the medical effort as artists Ayo Oyadiji and Corey Jones filled in pieces of the mural in celebration of every 1,000-shot milestone.
“The idea was to give people something to look at and appreciate,” says Jeff Van Dreason, RCC Dean of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences. “While they’re either getting the shot, or while they’re sitting in the chairs waiting, they can see the mural on the side of the wall.”
The mural depicts masked healthcare workers, medical equipment and a vibrant background with a large pink heart at the center of the painting. The 26-foot long painting was gridded out into 100 sections and gradually painted over the course of two months. For every 1,000 shots given, the artists would paint in a new section to celebrate the vaccine victory.
Because the painting was made on a large canvas and not directly on the wall, it can be moved once the vaccination effort at the Reggie Lewis Center has concluded. Van Dreason says the mural will be preserved and showcased on campus even after RCC moves back into a more normal pattern of life. The mural is specific to the COVID-19 pandemic and in that way will stand as a testament to this piece of history and to the importance of art in soothing the community throughout it.
Oyadiji took the lead on the project, sketching out the design for the mural and using his experience with paint to get the mural started. Jones used this opportunity not only to give back to his community, but also to explore a new artistic medium. “I’ve never been much of a painter, and this experience has taught me that I can do a whole lot more than I thought as an artist,” he says.
“Stepping Up for Vaccination” provided the two sophomore artists with the opportunity to give back to their community and to flex their artistic muscles in a public setting. Visitors to the Reggie Lewis Center can see the mural while waiting in line for the vaccine or sitting in the observation area after the procedure.
“We’re hoping that people will feel joy when they see it, because it’s very colorful,” says Monika Chas, senior designer at CIC Health who worked closely with the students on the project. “We’re hoping they can relate to it, because it is about the community, it’s about vaccination, it’s about coming back to some sort of normal.”