Art with heart: B.C. artists are saying thanks to frontline staff by offering them their works

·2 min read
Arthanks organizers look over some of the donations they have received. From left: Ali Ledgerwood, Valerie Arntzen, David MacLean and Ginger Sedlarova.  (Ric Ernst - image credit)
Arthanks organizers look over some of the donations they have received. From left: Ali Ledgerwood, Valerie Arntzen, David MacLean and Ginger Sedlarova. (Ric Ernst - image credit)

B.C. artists are using their skill and creativity to thank frontline workers by offering them original works through an online platform.

Artists can donate their work by making a submission on the Arthanks website, where each available piece is displayed in a photo. Frontline workers can then browse through the options and request a piece of art.

"We connect the two. We just say here's the art, here's the recipient, please get together socially distanced and hand it off," said David MacLean, a North Vancouver-based artist who came up with the idea.

"When you give a piece of art it's kind of original, it's a little bit different, it's a little more than just a one-off thank you," he added.

MacLean says the concept of Arthanks was formed as he found himself painting more during the pandemic.

"I was getting madder and madder about the grief that frontline workers are taking … and thinking, 'what have I done?' Well, nothing. I've done little or nothing to help," he told CBC's The Early Edition on Thursday.

MacLean began giving his art to friends and family who were frontline workers — including nurse Robyn Whyte, who he met at a Deep Cove cafe.

Whyte said the two had chatted about their professions and MacLean offered her one of his works after noticing a wolf design on her sweater.

"It just happened … he was donating a piece of art that was related to wolves and I couldn't say no, it's a beautiful piece of art," said Whyte.

MacLean had informally donated about 20 pieces of art when he reached out to Ginger Sedlarova, a friend in the local art scene, to help recruit volunteers and expand the initiative.

He said they have given away about 40 pieces of art since the initiative started last summer, and they are now looking for more artists to donate.

The works on display currently include paintings, vases and miscellaneous pottery.

He said all frontline workers are welcome to request a piece of art, including health-care workers, education workers and those in customer service-facing jobs such as grocery store clerks — "anyone who put themselves at risk to help us in this time of COVID," according to the Arthanks website.

In receiving her gift, Whyte said she was reminded that people are thankful for the contributions of frontline workers.

"It's great to be acknowledged. We've all been working very hard and it's just going on so long..." she said. "I know that there's people out there who are thankful and I really appreciate it."

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