Léni Whitford, a nurse from France, discovered her passion for painting during the COVID-19 lockdown. Little by little, she crossed over from the medical world to the artistic one to begin painting her own experiences through portraits, sharing the experiences and trials faced by her colleagues during the pandemic.
“This global crisis has transformed everyone including me” “My experience as a caregiver transformed me and now the pandemic has inspired my first collection of paintings”
Intensive care, oil on canvas, 2020, is a series of several paintings, communicating the extreme exhaustion and frustration felt by caregivers during the pandemic. “This global crisis has transformed everyone including me”, says Léni. “My experience as a caregiver transformed me and now the pandemic has inspired my first collection of paintings”. Léni’s paintings are powerful representations in time that move us to feel the range of emotions - exhaustion, fear, hope – of women and men on the front lines of the pandemic.
Women of science have often used crocheting and clothes stitching to help understand complex scientific processes and facts. This was the case of pioneering French midwife Angélique du Coudray (1712-1794) who created a mannequin of textiles to teach trainee midwives on all steps of properly attending childbirth. At that time, female midwives were barred from medical studies. In 1759, du Coudray published a midwifery manual “Abrégé de l’art des accouchements” illustrating important manoeuvres to preserve the safety of women and their new-borns at the moment of birth.
Her trainees practiced various manipulations in mock births on the life-size obstetrical mannequin and were well prepared to handle dangerous situations, such as with twins and breech presentation. Du Coudray succeeded against the opposition of male surgeons when Louis XV recognized that she was instrumental to reducing chid mortality and commissioned her to travel across France to teach the art of midwifery. She taught thousands of students and even male medical doctors and became a symbol of French medical progress.