Art show celebrating COVID-19 heroes includes Monroe artist’s work

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SiYi Robifker, 12, of Monroe, bottom row, far right, shows off her portrait, which was included in the virtual art show celebrating COVID-19 heroes.

MONROE, CT — SiYi Robifker, 12, of Monroe, was among seven local art students whose work appeared in a virtual art show of portraits celebrating their Covid-19 heroes. The art display was a culmination of an eight week pandemic portraiture art class taught by ShawnaLee W. Kwashnak.

Robifker’s created a portrait of a nurse.

“They are heroes, because they take care of sick people,” she said of nurses, adding of the woman in her drawing, “she was serious about doing her job. The pandemic reaffirmed that what she does is important.”

The young artists, age 11 to 15, were led through the process of creating their portraits via Zoom, while learning valuable tips and artist methods for creating fine art.

This program was made possible through the support of a FY20 CT ArtistRespond grant awarded by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development and taught this summer, during Connecticut’s historic pandemic shutdown.

Finished portraits will serve as an inspiration to peers returning to school after several months of isolation, according to Kwashnak.

“This class served several purposes, from enriching the lives of these fabulous students during a worldwide pandemic to passing the torch of classic portraiture from the masters of yesteryear,” Kwashnak said. “I couldn’t be any prouder of these young artists for how hard they worked and practiced each week. It was a pure joy to witness their artistic growth — and in such a short amount of time.”

“These finished portraits are a testament to their dedication to the arts,” she continued. “These worthy works of art will stand the test of time by becoming tomorrow’s history lesson about the lives of our youth during this unprecedented historic worldwide event.”

Other students participating in the class and show were:

Ryan Saplio, 11, of Southbury, who drew a picture of Sarah Jarvie, an operating room R.N. from St. Mary’s Hospital, who volunteered during peak weeks on a medical COVID floor.

Madison O’Rourke, 15, of Southbury, created a portrait of her Aunt Jackie, a nurse in charge of safety at a hospital/nursing home.

Kallie Foran, 15, of Middlebury, drew a portrait of her aunt, Johanne Kada, an x-ray technician at a hospital.

Gabriella Berardis, of Middlebury, drew “Allison” from Stop & Shop, who is working so others don’t have to, enabling them to stay home and stay healthy.

George Findlay, 13, of Middlebury, drew Jeff Hocking, an electrician. Findlay said Hocking is a hero because he puts his health at risk from the virus, while helping to fix people’s electronics.

Nicloe Dicello, 11, Danbury, created a portrait of her father, Salvatore, who is a firefighter and a paramedic.

For information, visit the Portraits by ShawnaLee Facebook page.

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