Sara is a nurse treating COVID-19 patients in the greater Philadelphia area.

“At work there’s a greater sense of camaraderie that wasn’t there before. We’re all working together towards a common purpose.”

Between Us and Catastrophe
Image courtesy of Kyle Cassidy
betweenusandcatastrophe.com
Nicole, Naomi, and Hazelnut are making masks in Philadelphia.

“Doing this has made me feel useful. It’s nice to have a skill that you can put to use.”

Between Us and Catastrophe
Image courtesy of Kyle Cassidy
betweenusandcatastrophe.com
Elijah, Zack, and Deloy work for the Philadelphia Streets Department.

“Our day starts at 5 a.m.”

Between Us and Catastrophe
Image courtesy of Kyle Cassidy
betweenusandcatastrophe.com
Look closely at these images and you’ll notice their unique grain and texture.

That’s because photographer Kyle Cassidy used a medical-grade face mask as a filter.

Between Us and Catastrophe
Image courtesy of Kyle Cassidy
betweenusandcatastrophe.com
Kishia is a shopper for food delivery service Instacart.

“A message saying, ‘This is really great that you’re doing this and I appreciate you a lot.’ That goes a long way.”

Between Us and Catastrophe
Image courtesy of Kyle Cassidy
betweenusandcatastrophe.com
Kimberly is a nurse in the greater Philadelphia area performing COVID-19 testing.

“Doctors and nurses set up a drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility in West Philadelphia to respond to the global pandemic.”

Between Us and Catastrophe
Image courtesy of Kyle Cassidy
betweenusandcatastrophe.com
Travis is a bicycle delivery person for Caviar.

“I carry a bottle of hand sanitizer on me, and I try to wash my hands every chance I get and be very mindful of touching things… it's just making me be a lot more careful.”

Between Us and Catastrophe
Image courtesy of Kyle Cassidy
betweenusandcatastrophe.com
 
Sara is a nurse treating COVID-19 patients in the greater Philadelphia area.


“At work there’s a greater sense of camaraderie that wasn’t there before. We’re all working together towards a common purpose.”

Between Us and Catastrophe
Image courtesy of Kyle Cassidy
betweenusandcatastrophe.com

Between Us and Catastrophe

A new outdoor exhibition showcasing portraits of the pandemic’s essential workers is on view through spring 2021.

When the COVID-19 pandemic spread and lockdowns began in March of 2020, photographer and Philadelphia resident Kyle Cassidy recognized that we were living through a historic moment. But he also recognized that for many people, especially those working on the front lines of the pandemic, the moment might pass by without a record of our everyday experiences. Cassidy’s project, Between Us and Catastrophe, was created to capture the challenges and changes faced by essential workers across the region.

“Sitting home doing nothing would have driven me mad,” Cassidy says. “To feel that somebody out there is fighting your fight for you, and there's nothing you can do to help.” As a photographer, he could put faces to the crisis and shed light on the many different kinds of workers and helpers keeping us going. Originally, this project focused on doctors and nurses, but as the shutdown progressed, Cassidy realized there were far more individuals working to keep us all alive—from food shoppers and mask makers to sanitation workers and bicycle delivery people. These are the people standing between us, and catastrophe.

View the complete set of portraits and text interviews >>

The Science History Institute is proud to share these important stories. We invite you to visit our new outdoor exhibition of large-scale portraits on our Chestnut Street façade. On-site or at home, you can listen to a special audio accompaniment to the exhibition produced by our own Distillations podcast team that features exclusive interviews with Cassidy and the essential workers of the portrait series.

 


Pandemic Perspectives

Throughout the spring and summer of 2020, our podcast team conducted interviews with leading figures in the world of biotech and medicine as part of the Science History Institute’s ongoing Pandemic Perspectives series. These interviews offer a fresh perspective on the COVID-19 crisis and the race for a vaccine. A podcast episode of the Between Us and Catastrophe interviews is included in the series.


Exterior exhibition and postcard design by Michael Derian.