Student artists bring inspiration to Somerville hospital

2 min read

The Ceramics Program at the Office for the Arts at Harvard recently installed a ceramic mural created by students of instructor Allison Newsome for the CHA Somerville Hospital, part of the Cambridge Health Alliance.

Created by 17 artists over two semesters, the salon-style mural, titled “Homeostasis,” incorporates life-reinforcing imagery such as fruit and flowers, rendered in a ceramic relief that recalls the architectural ceramics of 15th-century Italian sculptor della Robbia. Each artist worked on separate compositions, unified by the use of a white maiolica glaze with color applied on top.

For example, artist Julie Nussbaum created a center medallion depicting Hygieia, goddess of health, surrounded by Somerville landmarks, including the Prospect Hill Fort and the Powderhouse. Artist Bruce Armitage contributed two pieces to the mural; one depicts a woman in a garden contemplating serene thoughts, while the other shows a woman holding a basket with flowers. The mural is intended to “bring a human touch to a high-tech hospital environment with art that inspires, transforms and comforts patients, families, visitors and staff” in the waiting rooms of the hospital.

Artists who worked on the project include Christopher Adams, Bruce Armitage, Margaret Bearse, Deborah Bower Burke, Goce Davidov, Lesley Davison, Jia Gu, Kelley Hess, Marek Jacisin, Joyce Lauro, Catherine Lehar, Allison Newsome, Phi Nguyen, Julie Nussbaum, Brett Moore, Stephanie Osser, and Elizabeth Timpson. Special thanks to Bethanie Long and Ava Penman of the Cambridge Health Alliance for their help with the project.

The public is invited to celebrate this collaborative public art project at a reception at the hospital on Monday, June 20, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. at the CHA Somerville Hospital Emergency Department at 230 Highland Ave. Light refreshments will be served. There is free street parking on Highland Ave or paid parking in the Crown Street lot at the top of Tower Street.

For information on current and upcoming courses, exhibitions, and events of the Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard, please call 617.495.8680 or visit