A new art exhibition centered on COVID-19 vaccination will be on display in the Nebraska Capitol April 18-29.
The exhibition, titled “Vaccinate,” includes 46 posters of varying artistic styles that promote COVID-19 vaccination and vaccine acceptance.
It is a public health education project spearheaded by the Worlds of Connections team at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, led by Julia McQuillan, Willa Cather Professor of sociology, and Judy Diamond, curator at the University of Nebraska State Museum and professor in University Libraries.
Meghan Leadabrand, project coordinator for Worlds of Connections, said the exhibition is an effort to help educate the public about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, but the artwork will affect viewers in other ways, too.
“I was impressed by the art, especially all of the emotions that are in the different pieces,” Leadabrand said. “Some pieces make me feel so hopeful. Another one reminds me of the loneliness and isolation we felt early in the pandemic, and it really touches my heart.
“What stood out to me during this process was seeing these visual interpretations of human emotion — fear and hope and love and perseverance — and all the different things that have been mixed up during the pandemic and around vaccines. I think it is really powerful.”
The team began soliciting artwork submissions for the project in November 2021. The contest received 66 submissions from artists in Nebraska, California, Oregon, Mexico and more. The submissions were judged and selected by a multidisciplinary team of artists, scientists and doctors. Each selection was awarded a $600 prize.
The exhibition includes 34 posters selected from the submissions, with an additional 12 posters commissioned from comic artist, writer and Husker alumnus Bob Hall and Ho-Chunk multidisciplinary artist Henry Payer.
The artwork will also be featured in social media campaigns, available for download from the Worlds of Connections website after the Capitol exhibition, and in a book slated for publication in 2023.
Members of the Worlds of Connections team had received a COVID-19 RAPID response grant from the National Science Foundation and developed C’Rona Comix, which shared accurate science about the coronavirus to younger readers. Building on the success of that project, the team received an additional $50,000 in funding for the vaccine hesitancy art project. Both the Worlds of Connections Science Education Partnership Award and Worlds of Connections: Vaccine Hesitancy SEPA Supplement are funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.