On May 11, 2023, the Department of Health and Human Services declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Yet, attitudes towards vaccines continue to be a dividing factor both socially and politically regarding personal choice versus public health.
In 2020, a most frightening time during the pandemic, I thought deeply about how art could make a substantial impact upon the politically charged global medical crisis. When the first COVID-19 vaccines were distributed in January 2021, I used a high-resolution thermal camera to photograph the arms of participants after having received the vaccine. I have photographed over 150 participants’ arms at their injection sites, documenting and tracking each person’s reaction to the vaccine. The photographs were taken at different stages based on the amount of time since injection, ranging from fifteen minutes to four weeks after receiving the vaccine.
The resulting photographs reveal each participant’s unique immunological response to the injection, tracking the degree of physical reaction to the vaccine in a way that corresponds to their individual physiology. Some photographs reveal more heat radiating and spreading through an arm, while others reveal minimal visual heat. Each portrait takes on a surreal quality that invites the viewer to engage in a difficult subject matter, illuminating the fact that vaccines are not neutral to our bodies.
It is my intention that this series of photographs will ignite conversation and inspire the viewer to pause, consider the actions and feelings of others, and strive toward a mutual understanding that will help promote and preserve the health and well-being for all of us.
These images are captured with a high-resolution thermal camera.