Art Hero Project: A tribute for COVID healthcare workers who died, 2nd edition

Honoring the healthcare provider heros who worked tirelessly and succumbed to COVID. Licensed Vocational Nurse Brittany Bruner-Ringo RN worked in Los Angeles.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

As the United States begins to emerge from this very long struggle of coping with the weight of the pandemic, the impact of those lost to COVID is vast. Grief and remembrance take many forms.

Over 1,000 medical providers lost their lives to COVID-19 while saving lives of their fellow citizens.

Moved by these sacrifices, Susannah Perlman, a veteran of exhibiting art using digital technologies through her ArtHouse.NYC, is honoring them with the Art Hero Project, where an artist working with the family creates a portrait that represents their loved one.

Susannah Perlman welcomes family and friends who have come to memorialize and honor their loved ones at this outdoor portrait screening. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)
In Big Screen Plaza, 29th just west of 6th Ave. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

In homage to those lost and creating a form of memorial for their families, on a beautiful spring afternoon this past weekend, the portraits of healthcare providers lost to COVID screened in Chelsea’s Big Screen Plaza behind The Klimpton Hotel. This is a fitting tribute during what is also National Public Health Week.

Family members have already received the original painting. On-site, they received a small-framed copy, which many held during the afternoon projection.

“It becomes a leap of faith for them to come onboard,” says Perlman.

Families choose from a series of artist samples the particular artist to do the portrait; that’s when they begin to realize the sincerity of the project.

Those memorized and honored with the Art Hero Project are nurses and doctors of many different specialties, a radiological technologist, a respiratory therapist, and an EMS worker. A great many are foreign born.

They provided their service of medical care from the New York metro area as well as hospitals, clinics and nursing homes nationwide— from Florida to California, from Louisiana to Vermont.

Neuman Kiamco was an ICU Nurse in Chicago, Illinois. In portraying this hero, artist Therese Tan uses her background in illustration and graphic design. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)
At the Big Screen Plaza between 6th and 7th and W. 29th friends and family who have lost loved ones who were healthcare providers, spent part of the afternoon honoring them. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)
Romeo Agtarap RN. For the last 20 years, until his semi-retirement in 2019, Romy was nurse coordinator at the Adult Emergency Dept. of NY-Presbyterian Columbia Medical Center. Portrait by Michael Enright. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

“Once the portrait is complete, they have been truly grateful and appreciate that the unique character of their loved one has been captured in a timeless work of art,” says Perlman.

Being involved in this process of remembrance affects family members in different ways. It wasn’t so easy for the son of Quen Agbor Ako, a nursing home Registered Nurse who spoke of the stress of the last year since he lost his mother. One daughter of a Jamaica Hospital Medical Center doctor couldn’t bring herself to attend this remembrance while her mother with other siblings, present at the outdoor projection, was extremely grateful for being part of the project.

For families who have not been able to have traditional funerals this experience, with the outdoor exhibition honoring their loved one’s memory helps offer a much needed meaningful recognition of their heroism.

Artists with various realistic styles formed the creative pool from which families chose the painter to portray their loved one. The results are very personal, artistic representations, capturing the loved one’s essence.

In New York City, 20 Hero portraits from the Tri-State area were also part of the digital display on the LinkNYC kiosks (public wifi-fi and device charging stations).

Ballyhoo Media Boats in Miami projected portraits of the healthcare provider from Florida, the South, and the Midwest. And in Las Vegas and Southern California nurses were honored on billboards, sponsored by Bonnie Fang Foundation with Lamar Advertising Co.

Additionally, earlier this month in a continuous projection, framed backlit images exhibited the Hero Art Project in windows on 8th St.

At a LinkNYC kiosk on 6th Ave. near 24th St. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)
Dr. Amada Zivic of Maryland, portrait by Ronna Lebo, honored as part of the Hero Art Project on the display at the LinkNYC kiosk. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)
Dr. Anjali Verma Neonatologist and Pediatrician in Freehold, N.J. is survived by her husband and two daughters. Artist Peta Harvey worked at capturing emotion or a modd in the subject’s expression. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Greg Peistrup worked in Nevada. His wife Kristin Bell-Peistrup traveled from Las Vegas to honor him. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)
The Matthew Moore family at Big Screen Plaza to honor his memory. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)
Under the projection, artist Chris Kunze (second from right) with the family of Dr. Sudheer Singh Chauhan who worked at The Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. Dr. Singh trained hundreds of physicians and saved thousands of lives over the years. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)
Holding the potrait of his mom, Registered Nurse Quen Agbor Ako who worked in a nursing home in Maryland. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)
Portraitist Chris Kunz lives in Hastings-on-Hudson. He stands with family of Dr. Sudheer Singh Chauhan, (The Jamaica Hospital Medical Center) , whose portrait he created. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)
The family of Dr. Anjali Verma who came from India and settled and practiced in New Jersey honor her at Big Screen Plaza. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

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