New Art Exhibition in Skokie Showcases Work of First Responders

There’s a famous quote from Fred Rogers – when he saw scary things on the news as a child, his mother told him: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

An art exhibition Called “Courage …” adds a visual element to Mr. Rogers’ advice – and the artwork is made by the helpers.

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

“I was looking for some type of creative display to commemorate the two-year shutdown. And rather than focus on the shutdown itself, I wanted to focus more on the individuals who responded and helped,” said Debra Hatchett of Anatomically Correct Arts.

The small but powerful exhibition comes from Anatomically Correct, a gallery that brings artwork to public spaces – in this case a busy cultural center in Skokie.

The works can be realistic, conceptual or documentary. They include a 2014 photo taken in Ukraine during Russian hostilities and a digital work by a Skokie police officer who was a cadet in the Illinois Police Academy on September 11, 2001.

The piece called “And They Rushed Toward Terror” incorporates paramedics, firefighters and police officers, said Skokie police Officer Patrick Panizo.

“They rushed to it [ground zero] and saved so many lives, and unfortunately for so many first responders, that was their final act of courage,” Panzio said.

Other art pays tribute to frontline workers who died in the pandemic. Their portraits were painted by a retired physician who also memorialized the lives lost to COVID-19 at one convent in Michigan.

“I painted for dedication to those people who are working tirelessly everyday wearing the PPE, long hours,” said Dr. Kuhn Hong, a retired radiologist. “We all experienced a difficult time, but particularly for the healthcare workers in this time, really sacrificed their life and even they died. As of last October, more than 100,000 physicians and nurses died from the COVID virus around the world.”

Veterans also had a voice in creating the exhibit.

“This first responders thing came about by someone saying, ‘I got a nephew and he’s a first responder and he’s gotta draw, gotta draw.’ And so we started a website for him and this is what it has grown to,” said Jerry Kykisz, a Vietnam veteran and artist. “This is the first time I’ve seen some of the artists and their work and it’s interesting. I’m glad that we had the opportunity for this.”

For many of the artists, their creativity is therapeutic.

Obviously my job can get pretty stressful at times, but it’s nice after I get home and get settled in to just start drawing,” Panzio said. “It relaxes me a lot and kind of gets me to forget about everything else going on.”

Hatchett said after 30 years of doing exhibitions, artists often drop off their work and inquire about when to pick it up.

“Every one of these artists wanted to stay and help me put this show together,” Hatchett said. “It’s in their blood. It’s what they do. They’re helpers.”

The exhibition is called “Courage…” Devonshire Cultural Center, 4400 Greenwood St. in Skokie, through April 3.

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors