Sabrina Zhou has been painting commissioned portraits for several years.
“In recent years, I have moved my focus to my own art creation but never stopped doing portraits completely,” the Carmel artist said. “Every year, I work for the Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation to honor those who sacrificed their lives during service, and that inspired me to start the free portrait project for COVID-19 victims. I have seen so many people offer to help in many different ways. People donating PPE (personal protective equipment) and money. I have friends that make 3-D facial shields for the caregivers. The students from my art class are drawing nice pictures to go along with lunch donations to St. Vincent Carmel Hospital.
“I think my portraits would be a unique way to contribute, too.”
Zhou’s first project portrait is of North Central High School athletic director Paul Loggan, who died April 12 of COVID-19. Zhou said she is open to doing portraits from outside central Indiana as well. Her goal is to do up to 50 free portraits. Anyone interested should visit sabrinazhou.com.
“I am thankful for the help I got from the Chinese community, and I am ready to do my part as well,” she said. “I encourage local residents to pick up portraits at my studio (separate building from the house) so we can save the fund for out-of-town mailings. My family is going through a very hard financial time right now as my art class businesses are closed for obvious reasons, and the art shows we were planning to go to are all canceled.
“I know our pain is nothing compared to those who lost their loved ones. If my portraits could help a little, I would love to reach out.”
Zhou was born in China and earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in China. She moved to the United States in 2002 from Canada after she earned her second master’s degree from the University of Calgary. She became a U.S. citizen in 2013. She and her family moved to Carmel from Connecticut in 2010.
Carmel artist Michael Sinclair has a similar offer during the pandemic.
Sinclair founded diedfamous in late 2018. It is a nonprofit that creates free portrait memorials for families mourning the loss of a loved one. He said the creations are more than just visual representations of lost loved ones — they carry the message that coping with grief does not have to be a solitary endeavor.
Sinclair has assembled more than 70 portrait artists worldwide who have volunteered to provide free memorial portraits to families that have lost a loved one to COVID-19.
“We have people in England and Australia as well,” said Sinclair, who added there are four other artists from the Indianapolis area. “We have three portraits in progress and two that have been completed. We do it as long as we can and (do) as many as we can do.”
Prior to the pandemic, Sinclair created more than 20 memorial portraits.
Sinclair, a graphic designer, said the nonprofit is not shipping now because of the strain on the shipping system. The images are shared digitally at this time.
“Everyone is doing in different mediums as well, paintings, drawings and digital works,” he said. “I do all mine with charcoal on paper. Some are digital-only artists. Some of them are traditional and they’re going to have to photograph it or scan it.”
A crowd-sourcing fund for artists and creators (patreon.com) typically helps Sinclair ship the portraits for diedfamous.
For more, diedfamo.us.