Residency Unlimited

Kings County Hospital Center (KCHC)

Located in Brooklyn, Kings County Hospital Center is one of New York City’s largest healthcare centers, and a major part of the City’s public Health and Hospitals System. Working in close partnership with the Hospital’s Wellness and Recovery Division.

RU’s involvement with KCHC began in 2015 through RU’s collaboration with the Beautiful Distress Foundation that placed Dutch artists Aldo van den Broek and Christiaan Bastiaans in residency at KCHC to develop projects that strived to create more awareness and acceptance in society for the mentally ill. RU provided customised assistance throughout the process.

In November 2016, RU established a formal agreement to work with the Hospital to develop a series of longer-term artists residencies with local artists.  In the new program artists will engage with the hospital staff and patients while also working with representatives of the local community.  Their projects will help to build bridges between the hospital and it neighbors, support exchange between hospital departments and continue to encourage sympathetic understanding of individuals who suffer with psychiatric problems.

The first artist in the program, the New York based photographer Charlie Gross, is engaged in a long term residency at Kings County Psychiatric Center. He is currently focused on the Partial Hospitalization Program which is a transitional day program that lies between inpatient and outpatient treatment. He is documenting – through photographic portraiture and oral history – the process of recovery and hoping to focus on a select number of patients in order to capture their stories, struggles and resilience both in and out of the hospital setting. Additionally, he is in the preliminary stages of planning a multimedia project centered on music therapy in the outpatient department. A portion of his project is likely to be additionally supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

In 2019, RU alum Gabriella Ciancimino will develop the project “Smell in Dialect” that evokes the relationships that exist between the hospital community and the plants that surround them. Ciancimino will work closely with youth in KCHC’s Child and Adolescent Service towards the realization of the mural which will feature plants growing around the hospital and elsewhere. As a painter, the artist has developed a highly distinctive style where intricate layers of plants and vegetation overlap with text and other imagery. There will be four 3 to 4 hours workshops during which the artist and participants will explore the connections between memory, scent, and landscape, and how the hospital communities in the surrounding Flatbush area– many of which are immigrant populations – relate to local plants or ones they grew up with. The goals of this mural are to make the hospital setting more familiar and welcoming to the public, to reveal the links between humans and nature, and to foster creativity among the workshop participants.

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