New York University: NYU Meyers presents When the World Went Still, an exhibition by nurses honoring nurses

NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing presents When the World Went Still, an exhibition honoring the critical role of nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic and featuring works by NYU Meyers students, alumni, and faculty.

In March 2020, New York City became the U.S. epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses, schools, and cultural institutions shut their doors to stem the spread of the virus. The city quieted, aside from the sounds of ambulance sirens and the 7 p.m. cheers for essential workers.

These essential workers—including nurses, the largest healthcare workforce responding to COVID-19—continued to show up. Students, faculty, and alumni of NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, from the bedside caring for critically ill patients to administering life-saving vaccines once they became available.

“Nurses have been the backbone of the world’s pandemic response. This exhibition is dedicated to the nursing workforce during COVID-19 and documents the experiences of nurses who continued to care for others during this challenging time,” said Eileen Sullivan-Marx, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.

The exhibition includes nearly two dozen works, including paintings, drawings, photographs, poetry, a time capsule, and a handmade quilt. The works are displayed across five floors in NYU Meyers’ building at 433 First Avenue. The exhibition is curated by Ching-wen Janet Chuang, a master’s student in NYU Steinhardt’s Visual Arts Administration program.

A self-portrait in the exhibition by Katherine Moon, RN, CCRN (Meyers ‘16) depicts Moon putting on a mask to get ready for work in a New York City intensive care unit at the height of the pandemic’s first wave. She wrote, “I remember those days as ones filled with dread; the fear of getting COVID and dying was always in my mind. What got me through those dark times were my coworkers, my family and friends, and the belief that one day it would be over.”

Maile Mercer, MSN, RN, CCRN, a PhD student at NYU Meyers who also worked on the frontlines during the pandemic in a community clinic and intensive care units, contributed poetry and collage to the exhibition. “Nurses are multidimensional, creative people and I think embracing our dynamism and imaginativeness can be an important part of our collective healing and evolution as a profession,” she said. “My research focuses on how nurses respond to and cope with the occupational stress and trauma, so being able to share my work and my own coping this way feels particularly meaningful.”

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