Mural Mural on the Wall

A new mural appeared this fall at 319 Broadway in PVD, on the building that houses the 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers Union. The artist behind the mural is Joyce Kutty, an artist at Smokestack Studios in Fall River, with assistance from Wes Sanders, and it’s the first mural she’s done at this scale.

Kutty connected with the union through her friend Matt DaSilva, who started an initiative called Nov10 that links artists who want to create with healthcare workers who want a piece of original art. “He asked me if I wanted to create something for the union to boost morale,” said Kutty, who enthusiastically embraced the opportunity.

District 1199 represents many types of work within healthcare — elder care, nursing care, child care, building maintenance and food services — and Kutty worked with a representative of the union to plan the narrative and message of the mural. According to Kutty, the piece “shows all union work and strings together past, present and future perspectives in healthcare.”

Kutty said that the creative process not only taught her a lot about unions and their role, but restored her faith in community and humanity. “I didn’t expect [the project] to engage the community so much. The location is very public and people walking have been really supportive. It’s the most communication and connection I’ve had probably ever, nevermind in the midst of a pandemic.”

What are Kutty’s hopes for the mural’s legacy? “If people didn’t know before the pandemic that there are disparities and unfair treatment of healthcare workers, especially of people of color, now they know. There’s no looking away now, and I hope this mural is a constant and bold reminder that these people who are working every day are so important and our heroes.”