The COVID-19 pandemic was undoubtedly a challenging time for everyone, but it was particularly challenging for those in the healthcare profession. In collaboration with the McNay Art Museum, Methodist Hospital Metropolitan commissioned an artwork by a San Antonio-based interdisciplinary artist to pay tribute to their employees, patients, physicians, and the community. 

The glazed stoneware piece, “Hearts that Flow like Rivers,” by local interdisciplinary artist Jenelle Esparza, reflects on and commemorates the effects of the pandemic and all those who faced its innumerable challenges. Esparza has been in the Education Department of the McNay for over five years.

Esparza interviewed several frontline hospital staff and physicians representing various departments to gather insight into the pandemic from those doing the critical groundwork. This collection of interviews culminated in an art piece, which symbolically acts as an altar to acknowledge a period of significant loss and resiliency.

"The motif of interlocking hands in each arched frame of the artwork is an infinite pattern that flows like a river," Esparza shared. "It represents the sacredness of water, the continuation of life, and how hospital staff carried each other through extraordinary physical and emotional grief. The arch consists of emblems, symbolizing a unique experience shared during the interview process. Those I interviewed expressed profound personal and professional encounters from within this hospital during one of the most intense periods at the height of our global crisis exposing the humanity and collective sacrifice this community of healthcare workers undertook."

Some of the sentiments shared by the interviewees include:

  • "Seeing the staff come together, the teamwork, the flexibility and adapting, was overwhelming."
  • "We did everything as a team effort. Let's work as a team and help everyone out."
  • "It's about trust. Trust your doctors, trust your nurses. You have to trust the medicine. That's all we have right now."
  • "If you're a nurse, you're a healer, and if you're in this business, it's because you have the heart of a servant."

Methodist Hospital Metropolitan has long-supported the arts and is home to several artworks on its campus, and has partnered with the McNay Art Museum on several occasions, including this commission. The new piece of art is a welcomed addition to the acclaimed collection.

The artwork is located at Methodist Hospital Metropolitan in the main lobby for patients, staff, and guests to see and enjoy. Get more information about the artwork and artist