"Pursuit of Happiness""Pursuit of Happiness"
An eight panel mural by African America artist Vertis C. Hayes, entitled “Pursuit of Happiness,” was commissioned for Harlem Hospital Center with funding from the WPA’s Federal Arts Project. The mural, which was completed 1937, “…traces the African diaspora from 18th-century African village life to slavery in America to 20th-century freedom; from agrarian struggles in the South to professional success in the industrialized North.” (New York Times).
As the New York Times notes, “Harlem Hospital’s were perhaps the first major federal government commissions awarded to African-Americans.”
This and the other murals, originally in the old hospital and visible only to staff, have been restored for over $4 million and hung in the lobby of the new Mural Pavillon, opened in 2012. In a lovely gesture of respect, the hospital now projects Vertis Hayes’ “Pursuit of Happiness” onto the enormous glass facade of the pavillon, where it is visible to all.
National Archives and Records Administration, Negative 12710-C "At Harlem Hospitals, Murals Get a New Life", New York Times, Sept. 16, 2012 https://iraas.columbia.edu/wpa/pursuit.html
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