Nowhere Land: Photographing the Life of Lyme Patients

Art is a critical storytelling device. Patients can use art to share experiences in a unique way, opening a door to understanding for non-patients.

Jiatong Lu, a fine artist based in New York City, has accomplished that with her project “Nowhere Land”. She uses photography to capture the realities of Lyme disease and is sharing them to raise awareness.


Diagnosed With Lyme

Jiatong Lu, a.k.a Zoe, contracted Lyme disease in 2021. After receiving the standard treatment recommended by CDC, she initially felt better until relapsing after only a few months. Lu had developed chronic Lyme disease.

After seeing additional doctors and being prescribed multiple antibiotics, she did not feel better. In fact, she had harsh Herxheimer reactions and began exploring alternative medical treatments. At this time she recognized that many Lyme treatments are not covered by insurance and could be very expensive. Her bills began to pile up and she felt shocked and angry for having to go through this. Eventually, she found a herbal medicine doctor who helped to get her symptoms under control.

Throughout her journey, Lu met many other patients and recognized just how large of a community there is, yet the masses still seemed invisible to the public. Lu felt that Lyme patients are mistreated and desperate for help and she needed to do something.

I called this project Nowhere Land because I feel like a lot of patients are stuck and feel like they have nowhere to turn

Developing Nowhere Land

In April of 2022, Lu had the idea for this project. She saw that many patients have similar stories related to their illness but different experiences of how they were effected by it. For example, some patients may have families that can support the most difficult financial and emotional aspects of chronic disease, but many patients are isolated, depressed, and running out of money.

So far, Lu has photographed 18 people from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and California. She has documented and followed people who have chronic Lyme with the hope of showing the public their situation of illness, financial stress, and isolation.

She is now opening a call to the Lyme community at large to become subjects of her campaign. The more people she can photograph, the more impactful the campaign becomes and the better chance of it making a change on a national scale.









I hope through this project that Lyme patients can be seen, can be heard, and can be understood by the public

How To Get Involved

If you or someone you know is suffering from Lyme disease and would like to share their story as a part of “Nowhere Land”, you can reach out to the artist directly via email: or reach out on Instagram to @jiatonglu_.

About Jiatong Lu

Jiatong Lu is a mixed-media artist and photographer based in New York. Born in 1988, she grew up in Northwest China and graduated with an MFA in Photography, Video, and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts. Her work primarily focuses on the subjects of physical and mental trauma and explores the relationship between personal memory and collective cultural memory.

Jiatong’s work has been exhibited at Candela Gallery, Richmond, VA; Filter Space, Chicago, Illinois; Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, NY; The Rockaway Artists Alliance, NY; The 3rd Beijing International Photography Biennial, China; Shangba Gallery, Beijing, China; The Charta Festival, Rome, Italy; LoosenArt Gallery, Rome, Italy, and others. She has received awards, including an Honorable Mention from York Center for Photographic Art (2022), and a 2019 NYFA Artist Fellowship in Photography from The New York Foundation for the Arts.

You can learn more on her website: