Celebrating Black Women Through Art & Poetry, a Morris Arts – Overlook Medical Center collaboration

In honor of Black History, Women’s History and National Poetry Months, Morris Arts and Overlook Medical Center will proudly present Celebrating Black Women Through Art & Poetry, a collaborative program featuring works developed with the guidance of Overlook’s poet-in-residence, Thomas Dooley, and visual artists Rosalind Nzinga Vaughn-Nichol and Martryce Roach.

Opening April 6, the initiative showcases Overlook and Atlantic Health System’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and humanism in medicine by highlighting aspirational artists from among the hospital’s patients, clinicians and community who reflect its empowering and respectful culture.


L-R: Rosalind Nzinga Vaughn-Nichol’s Aunt Tootie’s Dream; Martryce Roach’s The Tea; Rosalind Nzinga Vaughn-Nichol’s Savannah Landscape #2: Green Dress; Martryce Roach’s Eve.

“We are incredibly honored to collaborate with Morris Arts to bring this exhibit to Overlook,” said Stephanie Schwartz, president of Overlook Medical Center and senior vice president, Atlantic Health System. “For those who travel through our hallways, this collection of literary and visual works will convey Overlook’s strong connection to the diverse communities we serve.”

“Programs like these can be powerful reminders of the importance of representation as we work to build healthier communities,” said Ophelia Byers, chief nursing officer of Overlook Medical Center and associate chief nurse executive, Atlantic Health System.

The poetry and writing pieces on display as part of the program were developed in weekly expressive writing workshops led by Overlook’s poet-in-residence, Thomas Dooley, virtually through the Thomas Glasser Caregivers Center and at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook. Patients, family and loved ones of patients, and Overlook clinicians were invited to express their thoughts and feelings about their health care journeys and experiences.

For the visual pieces of the exhibit, curator Dr. Lynn Siebert offered this background on her choice of artists for this special exhibit:
I deliberately chose works by Rosalind Nzinga Vaughn-Nichol and Martryce Roach, two very distinctive and accomplished Black women artists, to highlight the diversity of expression among Black women. A veritable “rock star” on the Black art scene, Rosalind offers lyrical, poetic and delicate works featuring handmade papers, antique textiles, and even embedded biblical texts. Her highly personal pieces touch viewers at their core and demonstrate a deep spiritual foundation that reflects her many years working as a hospice chaplain.

Fascinating contrasts come with Martryce’s dynamic, forceful and contemporary pastels which showcase her youthful energy, distinctive perspectives and an underlying aspirational quality which befits her other career as a practicing social worker,” Siebert continued. “These two artists are uniquely matched to the purpose of this exhibit – blending their professional experiences in bringing comfort and healing with their exceptional artistic skills. Morris Arts is thrilled to partner with Overlook in Celebrating Black Women Through Art & Poetry, highlighting the healing power of the arts and giving voice to wise and creative voices of Black women artists.

Here are some views of the Gallery installation:

The Opening Program will take place at Bouras Auditorium in Overlook Medical Center, 99 Beauvoir Avenue, Summit, NJ on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 from noon to 1:00pm (with Art and Poetry Gallery Preview opening at 11:30am). The art and poetry program celebrates the creativity and wisdom of contemporary Black women and will include an actor/host reading a poem to set the tone for the event and calling into the room the need for Black women’s voices.

Opening remarks by Ophelia Byers, DNP, APRN, Chief Nursing Officer of Overlook Medical Center will share her aspirational vision of this combined program. Thomas Dooley, Overlook’s poet-in-residence will introduce the program and Morris Arts representatives, Tom Werder, Executive Director, and Dr. Lynn L. Siebert, Director of Galleries and Curator of the exhibit. They will speak of their vision for this exhibit and introduce artists Rosalind Nzinga Vaughn-Nichol and Martryce Roach who will then share their artistic visions and inspirations. Mr. Dooley will then elaborate on how Overlook’s team members were encouraged to recommend and/or bring a poem to be read by an actor who will also share her connection to performing poetry. Some team members may also read their poems which will be represented in a poetry exhibit in the adjacent gallery area. Stephanie Schwartz, President of Overlook Medical Center and senior Vice President of Atlantic Health System, will offer the closing remarks followed by a final poetry reading. The exhibit will remain on display through May 2, 2022.

Here are photos of the Opening Reception taken and graciously shared by Rob Seman, of Overlook Medical Center’s Public Relations office. 

Morris Arts is honored and grateful to to partner  on this project with