Local artist, PSU students, develop murals for at-risk patients

RACC-funded muralist Una Kim designs pieces with underserved kids in mind

March 10, 2020 – PORTLAND, OREGON – Underserved and at-risk patients visiting Neighborhood Health Center (NHC) are now greeted with colorful, community-focused artwork, thanks to local muralist Una Kim her students at Portland State University (PSU).

NHC recently unveiled two vibrant murals funded by the Regional Arts & Cultural Council (RACC) at the organization’s new Tigard offices. NHC is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) offering medical, dental, family planning/reproductive health, and behavioral health services to Medicaid, Medicare and underinsured patients in the Portland metro area.

Kim says she and her students designed the pieces with the health center’s youngest clients in mind: “To a child, ten minutes in a waiting room or lobby is a long time.” Each mural contains hidden images intended to entertain visitors and liven up the space.

“These pieces were created to give – and continue to give,” said Kim. “And that can be more powerful. It’s not asking for you to buy, simply to enjoy. It’s a unique gift to the public.”

Kim took photos of notable and historic places in the community as part of her research to ensure that the murals represented the communities NHC serves. Some of these local attractions – rhododendron gardens, dragon boats, tulip fields – were incorporated into the murals.

Kim has been a muralist for 10 years, a teacher for 20 and a painter for 40 years. She eschewed the idea of becoming a gallery artist, drawn instead to the idea of offering her work to the public directly. As a muralist she says she has found a way to stay relevant, involved in her community and to give back through supporting entities like NHC.

Kim sees herself as a role model and mentor to the students she instructs. She says she wrote the class at PSU with these kinds of projects in mind: to enable students to work on the piece for course credit as part of a class project while giving back to their community.

As art director, Kim came up with the design concept, secured grant funding, created the panels with the help of her students, managed the work in the studio and delivered the completed work to the clinic.

To date, Kim has worked with her students at both PSU and Portland Community College to create four murals for NHC: one each at NHC’s clinics in Milwaukie and Tanasbourne, and two at the organization’s main offices in Tigard.

The two newest murals were unveiled at an open house earlier this year.

“It’s so inspiring to walk through here every day and see these bright vibrant colors and images of the communities we are so blessed to serve,” said Jeri Weeks, NHC’s chief executive officer. In her remarks,

Weeks noted that in the 10 years since it was founded, NHC has grown from two clinics to ten, and now provides much-needed health services to more than 16,000 patients in Washington and Clackamas Counties.

Kim’s murals are secured to the walls using French cleats and designed so they can be moved to a clinic location and displayed end-to-end as a complete collection in the future.


About Neighborhood Health Center

Neighborhood Health Center (NHC) is a non-profit community health center that serves a federally designated Medically Underserved Population (MUP) in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), NHC is governed by a dedicated, patient-majority Board of Directors, committed to the mission of building healthy communities – one neighbor at a time – through patient-centered health care, regardless of income or current state of wellness.

Learn more: http://nhcoregon.org/

Contact: Penny L. Moore

Phone: 503-941-3054

Email: moorep@nhcoregon.org