Condict’s Saints of COVID
Amanda Condict has created more than 35 portraits as part of her Saints of COVID art series, which illustrates stories and shows the deep emotions of essential workers across multiple professions.
It all started with a Facebook post. Amanda Condict, fine artist and Albright fashion design professor, was scrolling through her Facebook feed when she came across a picture of a friend wearing a face mask while working at a COVID-19 helpline call center. Immediately, she knew that she wanted to recreate the photo. With permission, she painted her friend’s portrait using watercolors and then reposted it. As others noticed her recreated portrait, she started receiving requests to paint photos of other essential workers.
“It just kind of took off from there,” says Condict. “I wanted to create portraits of the people who were doing the jobs we need done during these scary times.”
Since then, Condict has created more than 35 portraits as part of her Saints of COVID art series, which illustrates stories and shows the deep emotions of essential workers across multiple professions. In addition to many medical field workers, she has painted security guards, grocery store workers, a Rajah Shriners’ hospital volunteer, a sportswear seamstress now making masks and gowns, police officers, a teacher who delivered art supplies to the homes of her students, a social worker, postal workers and more.
While Condict doesn’t necessarily have a favorite, she has become attached to some of the portraits because of the stories behind them. One features her son as a trash collector standing in front of his truck – illuminating the entrepreneurial venture he started after being laid off when the pandemic hit.
Another features a young nursing supervisor who worked at a nursing home and lost her life after contracting the virus. “After hearing that her residents were concerned for her while she was sick, she wanted to get better quickly for them. That one was just really heart wrenching,” says Amanda.
The response to her portraits has been overwhelmingly positive. Early on, Studio B Fine Art Gallery in Boyertown, Pa., reached out to ask Condict if she would display about a dozen of her works in the gallery’s “Superheroes: What the World Needs Now” exhibit. Showcased virtually, the exhibit offered photos and video tours via the studio’s website and social media.
While creating art, Condict also searched high and low for inspiration in transitioning her in-person college classroom to a viable virtual learning experience, in the wake of COVID-19.
“My fashion design class, in particular, is very hands on,” she explains. “For example, students learn the correct way to hold a paintbrush, so moving class online — I was not able to watch them the same way I would as if we were in the classroom together.”
Initially, she created a library of demo videos for students to reference at their own pace. This fall, she plans to pursue more live Zoom classes to ensure that she is offering vital interaction with her students.
“I make myself as available as possible,” says Condict. “The students know they can contact me at pretty much anytime. I just want to see them succeed.”
In addition to teaching, Condict will continue painting essential worker portraits for the foreseeable future, and post them on Instagram with the hashtag #saintsofcovid. “I have over 30 more portraits to do so I do not plan on stopping anytime soon,” she says.
Later this year, Condict will offer a solo exhibit at the Yocum Institute — which has recognized her as the 2020 Yocum Institute for Arts Education Coggins Award winner.
“I love the idea of the pieces being displayed,” she says. “It creates more honor for those essential workers and shows their dedication to their work during this time. These are our true heroes and they are deserving of the recognition for what they do in our communities.”