Hero Art Project honors healthcare workers lost to COVID-19 – NPR – 71Bait

The exhibit’s creator, Susannah Perlman, poses in front of the “Little House” on the National Mall in Washington, DC

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The exhibit’s creator, Susannah Perlman, poses in front of the “Little House” on the National Mall in Washington, DC

Catie Dull/NPR

Susannah Perlman recalls her mother Marla’s smile, a wide, beaming smile that covered “a few zip codes.”

Marla passed away from COVID-19 last year. She was retired and had served as the director of volunteers at a Pennsylvania hospital.

As part of the Hero Art Project, emerging and established artists from around the world have now immortalized the smiles of more than 100 other US-based first responders and healthcare workers killed by a pandemic they were trying to fight off.

NPR met Perlman on the National Mall, where the portraits rotate across digital flat screens in an energy-efficient “tiny home” in the shadow of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building. There are paintings, drawings and digital works, some multicolored, others monochromatic.

Portraits on various media honor healthcare workers who have died from COVID-19.

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Portraits on various media honor healthcare workers who have died from COVID-19.

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“Here we are, on the National Mall, where there’s a lot of monuments, and this was a war in its own way, but it hit us in a different way than we expected,” said Perlman, founder of the digital ARTHOUSE.NYC art gallery behind the orders. “So here is a memorial to those people who gave their lives, who went to work despite the risks, and ultimately paid the ultimate price.”

Adjacent to the gallery, visitors stop at a hospitality tent to participate in art therapy projects such as B. Making origami butterflies – a nod to a Filipino tradition that sees butterflies as representing the spirits of the deceased. You can also contribute to a living memorial made up of clouds with the names of deceased healthcare workers, which are then placed on the back wall of the home.

Some of the portraits are of Filipino workers to recognize the sizeable population of Filipino nurses in the United States. There are also health workers from India, South America and Europe.

Artist Lynne St. Clare Foster animated Sinkiat’s short film and background for her digital work depicting Washington nurse Noel Sinkiat.

Illustrated portrait of a man wearing a flashy sweater and animated colors

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“Noel Sinikiat” by Lynne St Clare Foster

“It feels like he’s alive,” St. Clare Foster explained. “I didn’t want to just include the portrait, just the head… I’m trying to bring in bits of their world, their life, their culture.”

Because of the timing of the deaths of many of these workers at the height of the pandemic, their families “were not allowed to mourn the way people normally mourn,” she added, seeing the portraits as a different way of honoring the dead.

In another portrait of Indian-born Aleyamma John, the artist depicts rays emanating from the nurse’s head.

Illustration of a Nurse with Jewel Colors Animating in the Background

Remarks

Isabelle Papadimitriou by Lynne St Clare Foster

“She’s almost like an angel,” said St. Clare Foster.

Perlman takes care of the portraits in the tiny house.

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Perlman takes care of the portraits in the tiny house.

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Perlman started the project after realizing that many of those killed by the pandemic “were just lost and forgotten; they were just a number”. These orders, she says, give names a face.

“We would rarely see these people as the human lives behind these numbers, which I found more heartbreaking than anything else I can think of,” she said. “This person had a life, they had a history, they had families, they had roots … It’s more of a personal touch than the statistic.”

The prefab bears Marla’s name, but her portrait hasn’t made it into the collection yet because Perlman is still looking for ways to recreate her mother’s “wonderful expression.” The house, she says, “reflects what she was, a beauty, an elegance. She would love the natural light.”

After the show ends in Washington, DC on November 28th, the mobile home has planned stops in Miami, Texas, Georgia, the West Coast and New England.

The exhibit will remain on the National Mall through November 28 before moving to other parts of the United States

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The exhibit will remain on the National Mall through November 28 before moving to other parts of the United States

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This interview was conducted by Leila Fadel and produced by Taylor Haney.

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