Local artist and students create murals for NHC patients

Patients visiting Neighborhood Health Center 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.

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.”

artist unveils colorful mural

RACC muralist Una Kim designs pieces with underserved kids in mind.

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.

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.