X-mas Eve


About the Artwork

Cathleen Mahan

About the artist: 

Cathleen Mahan is a contemporary visual artist and a registered nurse specializing in critical care. “I’ve long known that my experience as a nurse informs my artwork. The same quality of touch that reassures a frightened patient becomes a creative source in the studio. Never, however, has my artwork been so directly linked to my patients as in the body of work that includes this drawing.”

About the artwork:

“One day last year while attending to the usual studio tasks, I felt compelled to draw. Inexplicably, I found myself furiously rendering the memory of a patient I cared for thirty-five years ago. Over the course of the next month a total of eighteen patients/experiences/memories beckoned me to revisit them through drawing. The process was humbling and curious. As any healthcare professional will attest, certain patients stay with us, welcome or not. These hitchhikers of memory, it seems, have a purpose after all. In ‘X-mas Eve,’ Alvin and the Chipmunks merrily sing holiday music in the background, but this woman hears only the news that her husband of sixty-four years will not survive the night.”

Visuals editor:

Justin Sanders


4 thoughts on “X-mas Eve”

  1. As a hospice nurse and later a cancer patient, for me
    this evokes profound moments from both views.
    At work, similar moments would present from time to time,
    unexpected and raw
    despite careful preparation,
    and again I’m a deer in the headlights.
    From the view of the surrendering survivor,
    or in my case the patient,
    it’s a painful and vulnerable scene.
    Your picture sticks with me.

    1. Terry, a sincere thank you for sharing your experiences. You eloquently highlight the shared vulnerabilities of the caregiver as well as the patient.
      I am so pleased that this work resonated with you.

  2. Marilyn Barton, RN

    Hi, this is a really good image. I am also a critical care nurse and teach a class called “mental health first aid” . In the class I include drawings and pictures. Would I be able to use this in my class? I have a lot of nurse participants.


    1. Marilyn,
      I’m happy that you found this image to be engaging. You have my permission to use this image in your personal presentation. Thank you for asking. Please contact me at cgmahan@gmail.com for any other use or to share a bit more about your class
      Thank you.

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