Portraits of Those Who Serve
Honoring Our Healthcare Workers
One of the roles an artist plays in our society is to observe the world around us. And through each of our works, we express our feelings, thoughts, and the impressions each experience has on us. My role as an art teacher is to help my students develop visual tools and techniques to use their voice and share what they see in creative ways.
This past year, our world was impacted by Covid-19. And during this time, each of us experienced the pandemic differently. Some were fortunate to stay relatively safe, while others suffered or even lost their battle with the virus. We strongly debated the use of masks, mitigation measures, and whether or not schools and businesses should be open. Our community worked and sacrificed to limit the health, economic, and educational impacts caused by this pandemic.
Through it all, our healthcare workers have always been there. Risking their own health in an effort to keep each and every one of us safe. Working long hours to prevent the spread of this virus from day one by testing and caring for those who were impacted. Their expertise and sacrifice is something that’s easy to take for granted, until we need it the most.
This art project is meant to honor their work and all of the sacrifices they have made to keep us safe. I asked nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers in our community to share “selfies” for us to make portraits. I gave them the option of wearing their PPE, and most chose to because they wanted to share the lengths in which they had to go in order to protect themselves and others.
They also wanted to share a message of hope.
One healthcare worker said, “I love being a nurse and taking care of people. It makes me feel happy to be able to help others. Keep up the good work, wash your hands, and wear your mask. There will be brighter days ahead!”
Another said, “I have been working with COVID patients ever since this pandemic started. I love to take care of others. It’s been hard but my heart is in it, and I will continue to do this until it’s over.”
Middle and high school students from across the Anchorage School District chose to participate by selecting a “selfie” and creating a portrait using pencils, paint, and digital media. Most of these works were made at home while they were learning online. Elementary students made artworks and thank you cards to share with their school nurse and other healthcare workers. These works will be displayed online. And ultimately, each portrait will be safely delivered to every healthcare worker we illustrated as a gift.
Click on the pictures below to see what they created!
“Thank You” Art
Middle School Portraits
High School Portraits
I want to thank each student who participated in this project. Your works are powerful, and I know they will be appreciated. Additionally, I take great pride in acknowledging that this was a team effort by a group of amazing art teachers who work for the Anchorage School District. I continue to be inspired by the effort you put into your classrooms, and the impact you have on your students. I also want to send a special thanks to Leah Maltbie (ASD Fine Arts Coordinator), who was an enthusiastic supporter of this project and did a lot behind the scenes, and to Dr. Bruce Wood (ASD Fine Arts Director) and the Anchorage School District Communications Team for all of their help.
Lastly, I want to share my deepest gratitude to our healthcare community: the nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers who did so much this past year to keep us safe, and who cared for those who were impacted by Covid-19. I am sure there were moments where each of you felt that your efforts and sacrifices went unnoticed or under appreciated. I hope these artworks prove otherwise. Your strength, determination, and unyielding care for others was apparent in each of the images you sent us. And through each work of art, I hope you are all reminded of how important and appreciated you are in our community.
Jacob Bera (Eagle River HS)
Laurie Templeton (Chugiak HS)
Sarah Davies (Bartlett HS)
Sara Mullen (Service HS)
Megan Henry (West HS)
Siobhan O’Hara (East HS)
Margaret Mackie (Romig MS)
Jennifer Ellinwood (Goldenview MS)
Lacey Pfister (Central MS)
Kathleen Yackel (Mears MS)
Ryan Thomas (Baxter Elementary)
Leah Maltbie (ASD Fine Arts Coordinator)