A pervasive sense of gratitude for the work of Kingston health services employees prompted a group of local artists to give back in the best way they know how; through their art.
As ICUs in the GTA buckled under the third wave of the COVID-19Pandemic, the nine resident artists in the Creativity Studios of the Tett Centre for Creativity & Learning couldn’t help but be taken with the sight and sound of numerous Ornge Air Ambulance Helicopters transferring patients to Kingston Health Sciences Centre, buzzing past their studio windows.
One of those artists, Natalie Bohnen-Twiddy, explains, “It was the beginning of the third lockdown, and fortunately we were able to get into the Tett and work in our studios. We signed in, followed all the restrictions, but in our own rooms — it’s just like having your own apartment. We were chatting and people were down and they were concerned, because they were anxious to get their work out in the community.”
Their studios at the Tett all have external windows, either looking out over the water or other views, she says, “And it was very poignant, watching these helicopters come in to Kingston and to look at the difficulty Toronto was having, and recognizing that we had this epidemic, it was not leaving us. The spirit among us was ‘thank God we have all of these people here in Kingston who can assist in that.’ And so we just wanted to say thank you to them.”
“I got on the phone with Laurie Falciani with the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, and the artists here in the creativity studios all decided to donate a significant piece of art to the hospital workers. So we decided to go ahead with that, and apparently there’s 7,000 hospital workers, between Hotel Dieu, Kingston General and Providence Care,” Bohnen-Twiddy shared.
Each of the nine Creativity Studio Artists donated significant pieces of art to be given via lottery to a KHSC worker. They are: Lisa Morrissey, Michelle Reid, Alice Melo, Adele Webster, Bethany Garner, Peng Wang, Rhonda Evans, Natalie Bohnen-Twiddy and Floriana Ehninger-Cuervo.
Starting the first full week of July, the Hospital Foundation will make one draw per week over the summer. Bohnen-Twiddy explains, “The lottery is a free lottery, the Hospital has all the names of all the workers and they are just going to do a name draw. It includes all of the workers: the restaurant workers, the cleaners, the PSWs, the RNs, RNAs, the docs, it’s for everyone. Basically, we reached out to the hospitals just to say ‘hey, we’re with you — and maybe a piece of art, and having a lottery with a little bit of fun, would be a great way of showing it.’”
During the Pandemic many artists, including those at the Tett have had difficulties getting public exposure and selling their work. The lengthy pandemic closure of the Tett Centre has prevented the artists from showcasing their work. Not only has all walk up traffic ceased, but also all instructional classes have been suspended. Despite these financially adverse circumstances and massive hindrance to their ability to share their talents, the artists have decided to turn things around.
Bohnen-Twiddy points out that despite that, “There was not a hesitation with these artists about donating works that could have maybe generated some viable income. I really do care about the artists who have had to really sacrifice, even to donate a $400 piece of art or a $500 piece of art… some of the pieces are worth 1000s of dollars, and they’ve done it.”
“Adversity has produced generosity,” she says. “It is our hope that the beauty of these works of art will symbolize, for these tireless workers, the gratitude of the people of the Kingston community. From the ‘heart and soul’ of our Tett artist community, we say thank you for the ‘heart and soul’ that these hospital workers have demonstrated during this crisis.”