According to UNESCO, women scientists only account for a mere 30 percent of researchers worldwide. “In many areas, gender equality is still a work in progress – one that the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered and hampered”, says UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. By organizing the exhibition “Creative Resilience” UNESCO shines a light on 54 women scientists across the globe.
Their artwork is inspired by women’s experiences during the pandemic. Female neuroscientists, doctors, nurses and medical students used their artistic talents and combined them with their expertise in the fields of science, health, science communication and technology to provide a testimony of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on society. Some artists transformed scientific tools into art pieces or used painting, photography, sculpture, crocheting or film to bring their creativity to expression.
Nightingale was an iconic heroine
One of the featured scientists is Dr. Eleonora Adami, who submitted a digital collage. The molecular biologist works as a postdoc at the Max Delbrück Center of Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC). She specializes in the single-cell sequencing of human heart cells in the lab of Professor Norbert Hübner.
Adami is exhibiting a portrait of Florence Nightingale (1820–1910) that she arranged in front of a graphical representation of a coronavirus. According to Adami, this surreal reinterpretation of the pandemic pays tribute to all women in science and healthcare. Nightingale laid the foundation for professional nursing and was a pioneer in information design. “That is why she is an icon in the medical world,” Adami says. “She used visualization techniques to explain epidemiological data to people in the British government – similar to how many scientists provided information to politicians and the general public during the pandemic.” Nightingale also understood that clear communication is critical when it comes to putting effective measures into action, Adami adds.
The artworks presented in the catalogue were selected from over 200 candidates. They are currently on view to the general public in a virtual walkthrough and a physical exhibition from October 28 to December 1 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
(Adami’s artwork can be found on p. 127)