COVID-19 ICU nurse found inspiration in co-workers for ArtPrize piece


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — ArtPrize artist Miranda Kurncz Garcia has worked as a nurse in the intensive care unit taking care of COVID-19 patients for the last year and a half.

She says it is her co-workers who inspired her piece, “Face of the Frontline. Tribute to Healthcare Workers Using Medicine Caps.”

“Everything that they do every single day, going in and out of these COVID patient rooms, putting their lives on the line, never once complaining about how tired they are, how they’re at risk of catching the disease; they just put their stuff on and go into these rooms and try to save lives,” she said.

“It’s kind of my way of giving back to them.”

A self-taught artist, Kurncz Garcia said normally when health care workers take caps off of medication bottles, they just throw them in the trash.

“I just started looking at all these different colors of all these caps and I was like, ‘Oh, these are so pretty. I could make something out of this,'” she said.

As she started collecting them for her piece, her co-workers heard what she was doing and starting gathering them from their patients. Before going into the patient’s room, they would take the caps off, clean them and put them in a baggy to give to her.

Using over 1,000 medication caps, she created the face of a health care worker donning a mask.

There are three layers of caps in her piece, and most of them came from COVID-19 patients.

“They come from paralytics that we use to paralyze the patient when they’re … on the ventilator,” she explained. “Sedation medications that we use to help people relax when they’re on the ventilator, pain medications, nausea medications, medications to raise your blood pressure, lower your blood pressure.”

She hopes that through her piece, people will walk away with a glimpse into what health care workers have gone through during the pandemic.

“The sheer amount of medications and everything that nurses and, not even just nurses — health care workers, doctors, patient cares techs, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists — everybody that goes into these rooms,” she said. “Just a glimpse of what we’ve been through in the last year in a half. That’s my biggest message for this piece.”

And she said there’s still lots of work to be done.

“I hope it can inspire people and give them a message of what we’ve been through in the last year and a half,” she said. “And how much work we still have left to do.”

Kurncz Garcia, from St. Johns north of Lansing, is a self-taught artist who has been a nurse for eight years. This is her first ArtPrize.

Her piece can be seen during ArtPrize at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, located at 86 Monroe Center.

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