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Selfless Nurses Immortalized in Art Project


Five nurses from across the U.S. are being immortalized through art. New York City-based artist Tim Okamura has made portraits of all the providers as part of the “Canvases of Care” project, but these aren’t your average paintings. The artist is channeling their sacrifice and dedication by adding one brushstroke for every hour these brave providers have spent taking care of others.

The nurses were chosen from a group of more than 100 providers who have attained all five emergency nursing certifications.

Casey Green, an ICU nurse at Baltimore’s Sinai Hospital, was thrilled to see her portrait in person.

“It’s so important to have [a] campaign that’s based on helping nurses stay in the profession and also supporting nurses, and I really like that somebody took the time to think about that,” Green said.

Her painting contains a total of 22,064 brushstrokes, one for each of the hours in her career.

“I’ve worked that many hours of my career and then you start thinking about what every hour means, every hand that you’ve held when they delivered that baby, every hand that you held when they passed away,” Green said. “When you’re just in these moments with people during COVID, when their family wasn’t there.”

The artist is using a digital frame to keep track of the number of brushstrokes that went into each painting. “It was really powerful for me,” Green said. “I got a little misty-eyed because it was just an incredible piece of art, and I thought it was just an incredible tribute to what me and so many nurses have done in our careers.”

The event was designed to motivate nurses to keep working at a time when so many are suffering from burnout and fatigue. It was sponsored by GE HealthCare and creative agency BBDO.

The more senior nurses have portraits with more than 85,000 strokes while others are still in the dawn of their careers.

“Nurses dedicate so much time and energy to helping others,” said Rob Concepcion, creative director of BBDO. “These unfinished paintings celebrate nurses’ never-ending commitment to care and visualize that commitment in a way that feels tangible. Serving as a reminder how lucky we are to have them.”

Looking at the paintings it’s hard not to think about all the time these providers have spent taking care of others. The more detailed the portraits, the longer they have worked in the industry.

Artist Tim Okamura is known for his authentic portraits of different kinds of professionals. “I love the concept relating the brushstrokes to the number of hours that they’ve put in in their career,” he said. “It just really gives you a sense of how much work, how much dedication, just the commitment to care that each one of these nurses has put in. I feel empathy in all of their faces, and I just feel like I’m seeing some very kind people, like truly kind humans.”

“You have the ability to change somebody’s life every day you come to work,” Green said. “You have the ability to make somebody’s day an ounce better in just how you care for them.”

Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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