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Given buckets of paint and LED light, nationally renowned muralist Meg Saligman creates art.

Saligman’s latest project, “The Evolving Face of Nursing,” will provide a glimpse into the future of the profession, using innovative techniques to showcase how nursing has evolved. The mural will feature all 15 nursing schools in the area, including Penn’s School of Nursing.

The new mural, to be completed in October, will replace the “Tribute to Nursing” mural installed at the intersection of Broad and Vine streets in 2002. Recent water damage to “Tribute” created the opportunity for a new concept and design.

About 26 organizations, including seven nursing schools and various other institutions, will fund the $266,000 project, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Chief Advancement Officer Kathryn Ott Lovell said.

Penn primarily provided “content-driven conversations,” but also helped the program make connections in the community to find sponsors, as well as providing a small financial contribution, said Wylie Thomas, assistant dean for development.

The mural will feature an experimental fusion of media, meshing LED lights and paint to create distinct layers that peek out at different times of day. “At nighttime, the light will shine on the paint and the mural will actually animate,” Saligman said.

Saligman first experimented by shining LED lights on red, blue and yellow Sharpies in her studio. She then requested paint supplier Golden Paint to replicate the effect with paint.

The design process is almost complete, according to Saligman.

The project involved almost a year of research starting in fall 2008, during which Saligman and artists from her studio met with nurses from all over Philadelphia. She photographed more than 100 nurses in the region.

The artists also met with prominent nursing faculty at the University and reached out to Penn’s Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, Wylie said.

At least three Nursing faculty members from Penn, handpicked by Dean of Nursing Afaf Meleis, will be featured in the mural, including scholars who are on the cutting edge of the field, Wylie added.

Some themes that emerged include the diversity of Philadelphia’s nursing population and the importance of acute observation and accurate documentation by nurses.

Another is how nurses no longer work just in hospitals, but also in homes, hospices and even kiosks in malls, Saligman said. “Nurses are everywhere.”

One of the biggest changes in the field has been its “increased complexity” and “expanding scope,” said Bates Center Founding Director Joan Lynaugh, who provided input for “Tribute.”

The field is turning to strategies that help reduce rates of hospitalization, such as improving home care, Lynaugh said — especially in light of the recent health care bill, which will increase demand for nurses.

One story Saligman vividly remembers is that of a home care nurse tending to an elderly man who couldn’t get dressed without help. The nurse saw it as her job to help him figure out a way to get dressed by himself in the morning.

“It was about providing him with a little more independence in his daily life,” Saligman said.

“I was not expecting to ... just be in awe of the jobs that the nurses do every day,” Saligman said, adding that nurses are there for people at significant moments — births, deaths, illnesses and injuries.

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