Michael Lee Zirulnik (b. 1981)
Strips & Needles, 2020
Glucose test strips (1,796), insulin syringes (1,491), Lucite panels (366)

Strips & Needles—A Day in the Life

By Artist Michael Lee Zirulnik, Ph.D.

March 24 – September 4, 2023

Opening Reception: March 24, 2023, 6:00PM – 8:00PM Free

Artist-led Program: Strips & Needles Workshop

Individuals and families explore parts of life with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), a hidden disability. The activity offers experiential opportunity for exploration and reflection.

March 25, 2023, 1:00PM – 3:00PM Free with admission

Strips & Needles—A Day in the Life responds to a staggering reality—nearly half of all people in the U.S. experience direct, adverse impacts of diabetes. The project directly benefits patients and families living with diabetes, healthcare providers, and the general public. Building community, raising awareness, and humanizing the patient are but a few impacts that translate into long-term, lasting impacts, particularly within the healthcare community.

The project is a narrative art and medicine initiative centered on the installation of 366 Lucite panels. Each panel encapsulates the syringes and test strips used by the artist each day. A digital story loop plays alongside the installation, connected to a participatory station for visitors to share their own stories and ideas.

A primary goal of this project is to create a humanizing opportunity for healthcare providers and students of medicine and allied health fields to reflect and reconsider the patient. Delivering a project that incorporates the visual arts, digital arts, and narrative nonfiction storytelling, enables participants experiencing the exhibition to step outside of their everyday routine so they can reflect and reconsider their actions. Then, they can step back in. When they do, we hope to have achieved a primary goal of this project—to create long-term impacts on healthcare providers’ thinking and actions in patient care. This means humanizing clinical care and recognizing our patients’ individuality.

Through a series of events that use the exhibition as a catalyst for dialogue, programming will 1) bring hidden rituals of the disabled into the purview of the public; 2) elicit the curiosity of viewers to promote interest in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM); 3) promote the human element in health care; 4) drive public dialogue about health and wellness.

Michael Lee Zirulnik (b. 1981)
Strips & Needles, 2020
Glucose test strips (1,796), insulin syringes (1,491), Lucite panels (366)
Michael Lee Zirulnik (b. 1981)
Strips & Needles, 2020
Glucose test strips (1,796), insulin syringes (1,491), Lucite panels (366)

About the Artist, Michael L. Zirulnik, Ph.D.: As a visual artist, Zirulnik’s contemporary works, partnerships, and exhibitions focus on opportunities for informal education. His work seeks to humanize the complexities of life, inspire innovation, and create generative spaces for conversation, contemplation, and hope. His current project, Strips & Needles—A day in the life, is an installation of 366 lucite panels. Each panel permanently encapsulates the syringes and test strips he used and disposed of each day. The installation begins and ends on August 19th, celebrating 25 years of life as a Type 1 diabetic. With his contemporary works, this, too, allows visitors to think about time, commitment, distraction, introspection, sustainability, innovation, and inspiration, while experiencing the emotions and ideas the work evokes. His follow-on project is a partnership focused on the visual and tactile representation of depression.

Watch the artist’s TEDx Talk on TED.com

Read the artist’s newest scholarly work in DCQR

Read the artist’s article in The Conversation

Read the artist’s article in VICE

Go on a virtual tour of Strips & Needles–A day in the life:

About the Contemporary Arts Program: The International Museum of Surgical Science supports a commitment to contemporary art and artists through exhibitions and programs that use the frame of contemporary artistic practice to examine new perspectives in medical-surgical science and our relationship to the body. The Museum’s Contemporary Arts Initiative includes rotating exhibitions of contemporary art, as well as an ongoing Artist in Residence program.

Thank you to our supporters

Initial support for “Strips & Needles—A day in the life” was generously provided by DPR Construction; Walmart; Sloma Law Group; WestUSA Realty; FASTSIGNS on Central; AZ Humanities; The Carmody Foundation; Albertsons Companies Foundation; Rea Bennett; and Bobby Walker. It is co-curated by Michael Lee Zirulnik, Ph.D. and Jennifer Hartmark-Hill, M.D. in the Department of Bioethics & Medical Humanism, The University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.

This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

The International Museum of Surgical Science acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Header Image: Michael Lee Zirulnik (b. 1981), Strips & Needles, 2020, Glucose test strips (1,796), insulin syringes (1,491), Lucite panels (366).