‘Bouquet of healing’ art project dedicated to Elmhurst hospital workers

Street installation outside Elmhurst Hospital at the corner of Baxter Avenue and 41st Avenue. Photos by Cecilia Lim and Ed Hong

The community arts project called Tandaan Ang Ating Ugnayan has offered a “bouquet of healing and connection” to Elmhurst Hospital workers, visitors, and community, through a street art installation surrounding the hospital.

With this installation, the project — founded by artist Cecilia Lim – sought to give a “sense of ‘pakikipagkapwa’ (interconnectedness)” to workers who have provided and who continue to provide critical services especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For several months, Elmhurst Hospital was the epicenter of New York City’s COVID-19 crisis. One in four healthcare workers in New York and New Jersey is Filipino. Elmhurst, along with adjacent neighborhoods Woodside and Jackson Heights in Queens, is home to the largest Filipino community in NYC.

The posters depicted a bouquet of culturally-significant plants, including munggo (mung bean) and ampalaya (bitter melon) with the message to “Hayaang tanganan kayo ng mga halaman” (“Let the plants hold you”) in seven languages: Tagalog, Spanish, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Bangla, and English.

‘Tandaan Ang Ating Ugnayan’ artists and volunteers.
‘Hayaang tanganan kayo ng mga halaman (Let the plants hold you).

“We want those who see our work to be uplifted and affirmed, and we want our message to be as accessible as possible to the hospital workers and surrounding community members who are majority migrants and who speak a primary language other than English,” said Lim.

Tandaan Ang Ating Ugnayan is a community project that invites the community to notice and acknowledge their relationships with plants. “Plants nourish us and are often overlooked in our everyday lives,” said Lim. “By remembering our connections to the plants around us, we move closer to a future where we are living in balance and harmony with our environment.”

Tandaan Ang Ating Ugnayan members are engaged in community and transnational efforts—including those led by Anakbayan Queens, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, and Ugnayan Youth for Justice and Social Change—to examine interrelated social and environmental issues of food, housing, education and employment. The project encourages New Yorkers of the Filipino diaspora to learn more about these efforts and see how they can become involved.

Tandaan Ang Ating Ugnayan is gifting posters to individual workers to post in their workplace or home. A free public online event with short film screenings, oral story sharing, and interactive art-making will be held in October 2020. For more information, please email rememberyourconnection@gmail.com, text 917-960-2399, and/or follow the project on Instagram and Facebook: rememberyourconnection.

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