The Mt. San Jacinto College Art Gallery is pleased to present “Sketches From the ICU” by Oh Young-Jun. The exhibit will launch online Monday, Aug. 17, at www.msjc.edu/artgallery.
The Art Gallery will host a special Zoom conversation about the exhibition from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27.
Oh Young-Jun is a trained artist-turned-nurse who volunteered to work in the ICU as COVID-19 peaked in his home city of Daegu, South Korea. During his time in the ICU treating COVID-19 patients, Oh used his talents as an artist to capture scenes from the hospital. Through his goggled eyes and gloved hands, we are compelled to recognize the care and humanity of the medical workers who are the heroes of the pandemic. His drawings depict the actions of the nurses and doctors with incredible intimacy and care.
While attending art school, Oh studied Korean painting, with a focus on landscape. His shift to capturing the life of his ICU challenged him to draw the figures and the medical equipment with its tubes, wires and screens. Oh’s style reveals the quickness of a courtroom reporter documenting the drama as it unfolds. In one drawing, a nurse can be seen with a full coverall hazmat-style suit adjusting an IV rack with half a dozen IV bags hanging on it. Oh highlights the hands of the worker by lightly coloring the green latex gloves that the nurse is wearing. The only other color in the scene is the small slit of flesh where the nurse’s mask ends and the face shield reveals the eyes. In each of these drawings, you notice that the little area of color where the eyes are peering out of the PPE is the only color in the scenes. This shows the humanity of the nurses and doctors shining through.
Oh Young-Jun has gained a following on social media with his drawings on Instagram @nursing_story and on Facebook @nursingstory. He started sharing his drawings here because he wanted people to see the grueling hours, the mental and physical toll of the work and the risk and sacrifice that he and his colleagues are taking every day. You can think of Oh’s drawings as dispatches from the frontlines. We see nurses trying to insert an IV into a patient or carrying buckets of biohazardous waste to be disposed of. In one particular scene, a nurse inspects a tear in their latex glove, a startling moment in which we realize that a tear could expose the nurse to the virus. Thankfully the hole reveals a different color latex glove underneath the outer glove and shows just how many layers of protection are required to keep our hospital workers safe.
COVID-19 has brought MSJC many new challenges, one of which is shifting our curriculum online. Hopefully this change will give us new ways of viewing the world, broaden our experiences and our sense of global humanity. It is with this spirit that we are honored to present the drawings of Oh Yung-Jun.
Mt. San Jacinto College serves about 27,000 students in a district covering 1,700 square miles from the San Gorgonio Pass to Temecula, with campuses in San Jacinto, Menifee, Banning and Temecula.
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In May 2020, Mt. San Jacinto College awarded a record-breaking 3,554 degrees and certificates to 1,958 graduates.
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