Mt. San Jacinto College Art Gallery presents ‘Sketches From the ICU’

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The Mt. San Jacinto College Art Gallery presents “Sketches From the ICU” by Oh Young-Jun at http://www.msjc.edu/artgallery. The art gallery will host a special Zoom conversation about the exhibition from 1-2 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 27. Valley News/Mt. San Jacinto College photo

SAN JACINTO – The Mt. San Jacinto College Art Gallery launched the art exhibit “Sketches From the ICU” by Oh Young-Jun, Monday, Aug. 17, at http://www.msjc.edu/artgallery.

The art gallery will host a special Zoom conversation about the exhibition from 1-2 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 27.

Oh Young-Jun is a trained artist-turned-nurse who volunteered to work in the intensive care unit 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, viewers 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, viewers will notice that the little area of color where the eyes are peering out of the personal protective equipment is the only color in the scenes. It shows the humanity of the nurses and doctors shining through their gear.

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 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. Viewers can think of Oh’s drawings as dispatches from the front lines. He shows 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 as 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 hospital workers safe.

For more information, visit http://www.msjc.edu/artgallery or contact art professor John Knuth at Jknuth@msjc.edu.

Submitted by Mt. San Jacinto College.