A man paints a wall as a woman adds a piece of art showing a human-like figure to the wall

Creatively expressing nursing science

Students from Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing work with Cleveland Institute of Art class to create “Infecting the Human Experience” show; opens Friday at CIA

Art and science will blend together Friday when students from the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) and Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing display their collaborative artwork interpreting health issues from HIV to bed bugs.

The “Infecting the Human Experience” exhibition features work from students in Michael Meier’s 100 Drawings class at CIA, informed by research from undergraduate nursing students in Irena Kenneley’s microbiology class at the nursing school. The show will be on view from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 3, in the Ann and Norman Roulete Student + Alumni Gallery at CIA (11610 Euclid Ave.).

“For the artists, the challenge was ‘How do I convey a complex idea in a way that will communicate to the person who views it?’ ” said Kenneley, an associate professor at the nursing school. “But for our nursing students, it was about stepping outside of their accustomed ways of learning to doing something ambiguous and uncomfortable—but the razor’s-edge is where you grow.”

About 80 students from Kenneley’s class met regularly throughout the winter semester with about 17 art students to come up with the artwork, including fiber art, paintings, metal etchings and a large sculpture.

Watch: Infecting the Human Experience from Cleveland Institute of Art on Vimeo.

This year’s project was inspired by a similar collaboration between the two institutions three years ago, led by Professor Joachim Voss, director of the Sarah Cole Hirsh Institute at the nursing school, which emphasizes evidence-based nursing practice. That first project resulted in a series of posters and comic books illustrating various health care topics.

“In both of these, the idea is for our nursing students to begin to develop an emotional intelligence, a visual intelligence,” Voss said. “In their very ordered world, there will always be one thing that is very ‘un-ordered,’ and that is the patient.”

Kenneley agreed, saying that an experience like this may be one of the few times the nursing students are stepping outside the more analytical and regimented teaching and learning methods of nursing education.

“There’s not a textbook for this,” she said. “But we believe this is important, nonetheless.”