Spotlight_Esteban del Valle

State of the Art

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With more than 10 cans of paint, a collection of brushes and a stroke of creative genius, Esteban del Valle arrived quietly this spring to face a blank canvas on the fifth floor of CHKD.

The Brooklyn-based artist worked through the night, over the course of nine days, to transform an ordinary hospital wall into a vibrant work of art designed to lift the spirits of children and families in the hospital.

The mural, titled “Imagination Encircles the World,” took nearly 80 hours to finish. Featuring what del Valle calls impossible flight moments, the 30-foot painting includes brilliantly colorful images of children doing extraordinary things: a young boy flies through the air on the back of a gigantic bird and a girl pilots an enormous neon butterfly. “I wanted to give kids a hopeful message – that despite challenges, there is still the possibility to fly at the end of the day,” says del Valle.

Del Valle has previously completed dozens of murals around the world, including “We Can Create What We Imagine” in Norfolk’s NEON district, but this is his first piece in a hospital setting. The mural is a first for CHKD too, marking the inaugural work for the hospital’s creative arts council, which plans to bring more artistic collaborations to CHKD.

Research supports art as a positive influence on hospital patients, with the potential to reduce stress and improve recovery times. With these benefits in mind, the mural is strategically located just outside CHKD’s transitional care unit (TCU), where children with severe illnesses and rehabilitation needs often stay for several months at a time.

The effect of the larger-than-life painting can already be felt throughout the hospital. “The new mural makes everyone who sees it stop for a minute and think,“ says Adebisi Akerele, a nurse in the TCU. “It makes the children – and all of us – just feel better.”

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