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Fashion Nurses? Of course they’re in New York City. It all started last March on Instagram. New York City artist and designer Rebecca Moses, 62, is accustomed to drawing and painting every day, but life under spring lockdown in NYC had left her in dire straits. She started painting images of women in quarantine, couch-locked and noshing popcorn or drinking wine in front of a TV screen. It did not take long for Moses to tire of ringing the changes on that limited theme.
Seeking an outlet for her creative energies, Moses posted an invitation on her Instagram account, asking women to send her their lockdown stories. She heard from 360 women and girls around the world, aged 4 to 100, and dubbed them the Keep Dwelling Sisters. In April, one member of the group informed Moses that her sister was not in lockdown, but was a chief nursing officer and VP at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital system. Moses responded by creating a dual portrait of this nurse, Linda Valentino; one image featured her in PPE, and the other depicted Valentino in mufti. A new project was born.
On December 1, the walls of Mount Sinai’s Guggenheim Pavilion in Manhattan were festooned with portraits of 46 nurses as the hospital system opened a special exhibit of Moses’ work entitled “Thank You, Mount Sinai Nurses.” Interestingly, the hospital preferred to use the portraits depicting the nurses in their civvies, so the Pavilion walls are covered with images of powerful, capable, and very chic off-duty nurses of every age and skin hue, all of whom appear to be standing in the wings before making a grand entry during New York Fashion Week. Vanessa Joseph, a labor and delivery nurse who wears a twinset and floral skirt in her colorful Moses portrait, told the New York Times’ Jessica Iredale, “Sometimes you feel like you’re in the trenches. We put on the full P.P.E. and no one can even recognize you anymore. I’m just trying to guess what Rebecca saw, and it’s so much life and vibrancy. It gives people hope that we’re going to get back to that again.”
The exhibit is part of a project formed by Anne Valentino, Moses, and Fragrance Foundation president Linda Levy. A random 5,000 of Mount Sinai’s 8,000 nurses—chosen by lottery—will also be able to give themselves some well-deserved pampering with free perfume and beauty products from Levy’s company. Are there any male Fashion Nurses in the exhibit? Unfortunately, men fall outside the artist’s purview: “I love men,” Ms. Moses explained, “But I don’t draw them well.”