I created portraits of real New York City medical workers as messages of gratitude during the COVID-19 crisis.
Thank You for Your Commitment depicts two FDNY paramedics, Sherry Singleton and Christell Cadet. When Christell was hospitalized with COVID, Sherry organized a GoFundMe for her friend. Sherry also fell ill with COVID, and is recovering. After being in a medically-induced coma for a month, Christell has left the hospital and is rehabilitating. The artwork will be displayed on electronic billboards in Times Square from May 15 to early June: 1551 Broadway at 46th Street (map), 1585 Broadway between 47th and 48th Streets (map), and 20 Times Square at 47th Street and Seventh Ave (map). Artworks may also appear on an electronic billboard above Lincoln Tunnel, and on 1,800 LinkNYC kiosks across all five NYC boroughs.
Thank You for Your Sacrifice is influenced by an emergency room doctor in Queens, who temporarily left his home to protect the health and safety of his wife and baby.
Thank You for Your Courage was inspired by Kelley Cabrera, RN, a unionized nurse organizing for adequate PPE (personal protective equipment) at a hospital in the Bronx. Clerical associate Elsie Rios, who assists with COVID intake at the same hospital, is also depicted.
My goal was to honor the diverse individuals whose stories inspired the portraits, as well as all front-line workers. It was important for me to represent people of color: COVID’s disproportionate impacts on Black and brown communities reveal the urgency of addressing systemic inequality. I was also motivated to represent Asian Americans in the context of rising anti-Asian sentiment. Finally, I hope that pointing attention to the risks and struggles faced by health care workers and their families can lend perspective to coping with shelter-in-place guidelines, social distancing, and disrupted routines.
Credit: Christine Wong Yap, Thank You for Your Sacrifice, Thank You for Your Courage, Thank You for Your Commitment, 2020, commissioned by Times Square Arts with For Freedoms, Poster House, and PRINT Magazine, images courtesy the artist. Photos by by Maria Baranova for Times Square Arts.
Thanks to the subjects for giving their permission to use their likenesses. Thanks to Hank Willis Thomas, For Freedoms, Times Square Arts, Brittni Collins, Taylor Brock, Gabriel Garcia Roman, and Amy Lee Sanford. Thanks also to Kathy Rubenstein, Carmen Boon, Kristi Barnes, John C. Doyle, and Barbara Deiorio in assistance with identifying and contacting the medical workers.