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After tragedy, vibrant murals bring hope and community to life at M Health Fairview clinic

An email asking Fairview CEO James Hereford for help led to a mural painting project at a children’s clinic that was damaged during recent demonstrations in Minneapolis.
A team of clinic staff, volunteers, and M Health Fairview leaders gathered in front of a partially complete mural at M Health Fairview Children’s Clinic – University on Tuesday.

A group of M Health Fairview employees are creating an expression of hope and community, one brushstroke at a time, at M Health Fairview Children’s Clinics – University.

Clinic staff and volunteers gathered on Tuesday to begin painting two murals that will soon grace the interior and exterior of the children’s clinic, which is located in Minneapolis. The clinic was damaged last week during the demonstrations that followed the murder of George Floyd. While repairs are being made, parts of the clinic façade have been covered in plywood. 

The project began when a pediatrician at the clinic emailed Fairview CEO James Hereford with a simple request: Help us make this space feel open and welcoming for our children and families.

“This was a project that happened responsively and very quickly,” said Christina McCoy, an M Health Fairview community partnerships manager with the community advancement team. “This beautiful clinic has been boarded up due to the tragedy and unrest that we’ve been experiencing across the Twin Cities over the last two weeks. This is part of, we feel, the overall healing and rebuilding.”

As a result of the employee’s outreach, McCoy organized the effort and designed the murals. The exterior painting, placed on plywood, will feature a woman standing in front of a book that has vines and plant life emerging from it. The image symbolizes growth and rebirth while evoking the clinic’s partnership with Reach Out & Read, a citywide literacy initiative. The second painting, placed in the clinic lobby, will include the Minneapolis skyline backed by a heart-themed sunrise and the caption: “May love be the heart of this town.”

“We really want to drive home the fact that we love our community and we are nothing without the community members that we serve,” McCoy said.

The vibrancy of the images thrilled Clinic Administrator Mike Mikkelson, who picked up a paintbrush and pitched in during the painting effort on Tuesday afternoon. Mikkelson was joined by James Hereford, who spent time at the clinic working alongside the staff and volunteers.

“The broken windows of this M Health Fairview children’s clinic are a symbol of the healing that needs to happen in our community,” Hereford said on Tuesday. “I’m grateful that one of the pediatricians came to me with the idea to put a mural over the plywood and grateful to join the staff painting it today. How we show up for our patients and each other matters now more than ever.”