He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely challenging for everyone, but it was especially hard on those who work in healthcare. To pay tribute to their employees, patients, and the community, Methodist Hospital | Metropolitan wanted to do something special.
Because of the hospital’s love for the arts, they commissioned a piece by San Antonio-based interdisciplinary artist Jenelle Esparza. They were looking for a piece of art that would reflect on and commemorate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and all who faced its innumerable challenges head-on.
Esparza interviewed several frontline hospital staff 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 resilience.
"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."
The motif of interlocking hands in each arched frame is an infinite pattern that flows like a river. 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. They express 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.
The piece is located at Methodist Hospital | Metropolitan in the main lobby for patients, staff, and guests to see and enjoy.
Meet the Artist
Jenelle Esparza was born in Corpus Christi, TX and attended the University of Texas at San Antonio and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography in 2010. She currently lives and works in San Antonio, and has been a Museum Educator of Family Experiences at the McNay Art Museum for 5 years.
Jenelle examines the lesser-known history of cotton and labor in South Texas through photography and textiles, and incorporates concepts of body movement, history, gender, identity, culture, and race. Her recent projects consider the intersections of Mexican and American culture and the implications of generational trauma. Her recent projects utilize textiles and found objects as representations of bodily and human experiences.
She has exhibited nationally in institutions such as The DePaul Art Museum in Chicago, IL; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and The Momentary in Bentonville, AR; and Lousiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. She is the recipient of numerous honors including 2015 National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) Artist Grant and the summer 2018 Artpace International Artist Residency. Her work is also included in the permanent collection of the San Antonio Museum of Art. Learn more about Jenelle and see her other work here.