About the project  

This project is a response to the observation that BIPOC providers are underrepresented in the art, media, and reporting around the country's response to the COVID-19 epidemic.  

 

A career in medicine is not easy—for many reasons—yet these women choose it. Many of them form the frontline response to the epidemic but yet we do not see their faces in the news, on billboards, or in art honoring both the sacrifices and contributions they make as medical professionals.

They kiss their own children goodbye...

...then show up for their patients.

These portraits are a way to say, "Thank you."

"Role model: a critical missing piece in my medical career development. May this series reach young women of color and lift their eyes and spirits and aspirations. The force of these unheralded women needs a voice. My admiration is best expressed visually so, I’m honoring as many as I can."

-Nancy Prendergast M.D.

When I saw the New Yorker cover with the female physician in full PPE video chatting with her family from work as her husband put their kids to bed, I was so touched. I felt like my role as a physician mother was validated and honored.  Unfortunately, as more and more artists paid tribute to healthcare workers, images of women of color seemed to be lacking.

This project started as a simple request to a physician moms’ group for photos of Black, Brown, and other women of color that could be used for portraits. The response was tremendous. More than 150 women shared photos of themselves on the front lines, most wearing the personal protective equipment they don every day to prevent transmission of  COVID-19.

Given the robust response, I put out a call out to my artist friends to see if anyone else wanted to do some portraits. Several signed up right away, and many recruited their artist friends, who recruited their friends, and so on. The artwork is being made by fellow doctors, a CPA, a librarian, and people from many other fields. Some are even professional artists! These creative souls are using their talents to recognize the amazing service these women on the front line provide."

-Sarah E. Rowan, M.D.
 Infectious Diseases, Denver, CO

 

  Dictum

      A poem by dr. Jean Robey

"Intense. 

 

They say, “She is intense.”

And they mean to wear me down 

Till I fit 

In a notion.

Masked,

Some of my sounds are muffled 

My smile becomes only a chagrin within

My hard fought authority withers 

I know why I am here 

Even if constantly behind 

Asked to 

Fit quietly into a notion written as a “How to be feminine” 

Encyclopedia 

Volume 2020

Every line in between what is said 

What is allowed

I push back against 

I know why I 

Mask

Now 

To operate a machine still running 

To regard a pandemic coming for us all

Equally

A fire is burning 

On two sides of a three ply 

You think the mask is opportunity to hold me back 

In my place 

In my race, color, gender, or a presumed magnitude pronounced since the beginning of prejudice 

First breath,

A mandate championed over and over to have but one class

Of human 

I trespass these decrees 

Force now to exact my 

Femininity 

You will see 

Me bleeding out a capacity that does not ask permission 

These chains that remain 

This mask that suggests I will always submit to being ill defined 

Merely accentuate my eyes piercing into your soul, 

Knowing full well 

I have power in my mind that is frightful 

And warm

My soul has rights 

I fight back 

The ignorance that gave opportunity to lies 

Over human existence 

The virus comes for us 

But I make viral 

The undeniable 

Escalating finally to the frank 

Women are equals 

In rank 

Holding back nothing to be both vulnerable and resistant 

To impartial truths 

Like a virus 

Like 

A mask 

May 2020 cleanse persistent arguments 

That say

She, he, they 

Them

Only 

Cannot be 

Will never 

Not today 

Maybe maybe maybe 

I remain here 

Mark my word 

As I have always been 

Flesh 

Wisdom

An asset to the constant fight against a threat 

Of forgetting 

We are all humans 

Being eaten alive by a universal threat 

Of minimizing"

Behind the scenes

 Meet the talented folx who have been behind the scenes bringing Women of Color on the Front Lines to life.

Sarah Rowan, MD is an infectious diseases specialist at Denver Public Health. She grew up in Oklahoma City and now lives in Denver with her partner, twin boys, and puppy dog, Archie Thatcher. Sarah takes advantage of community classes at the Art Students League of Denver whenever she gets a chance.

Nancy Prendergast, MD, was born in Jamaica and completed her undergraduate and medical training at Brown, followed by a radiology residency and musculoskeletal fellowship at NYU. She now lives and practices in Central New Jersey where she is also catching up on her artwork after several decades without it. She has taken classes at RISD and the Art Students League in NYC. Nancy created several portraits for the Women of Color on the Front Lines project. 

Holly McClelland, artist, graphic designer, expert rock skipper. Owner of Clementine Studios and many pairs of skis. You can find more of Holly's work at clementinestudios.com.

Brailyn Dudley is a Human Resources professional in Denver, CO as well as a WOC contributor. 

Dave Thatcher is the founder of Together Creative, a multimedia storytelling agency in Denver, CO. When not behind a camera they can be found lost in a book, teaching their new puppy to sit and enjoying sunshine. You can find more of Dave's work at togethercreative.media.

© 2020 by Women of Color on the Frontlines

  • Facebook
  • Instagram