Each portrait now on display in the windows of the New York Life building reflects the toll that the ongoing pandemic has had on frontline workers. Each one is a tribute to health care professionals like Dr. Carlos Vallejo, who died from exposure to COVID-19.
"We were telling my dad, ‘Hey, dad, be careful, wear your masks, wear your PPE and everything when you see these patients,’ but that never really stopped my dad. He would still continue to see his COVID patients,” said Charlie Vallejo.
The exhibit is called the Hero Art Project. It's a joint project between the Brave of Heart Fund and Arthouse NYC, which profiles 29 health care workers, including Queens Hospital Center nurse Aleyamma John, and Kious Kelly, an emergency room nurse at Mount Sinai West. Each portrait was completed by a different artist with the goal of humanize each loss.
"I believe that all people in the world right now, they really appreciate this great job that medical persons do for us,” said Anna Gordo, the artist behind the sketch of Jacob Page, who worked with adults with developmental disabilities.
"I put a lot of my emotions, my patience" explained Gorda. "I can see the person so well."
Organizers at New York Life are hoping the art project will further the mission of the Brave Heart Fund, which provides grants for the surviving relatives of health care workers who have given so much.
"We've given out $20.5 million [and] we have more money to give,” said Heather Nesle, president of New York Life Foundation.
As the rotating installation tells their stories, the fund, which accepts applications through the end of the year, offers financial support as family members grieve, and as other health care workers continue the frontline battle against the pandemic.
The exhibit runs through October 25.