Heroes are all around us. At the frontline and behind the scenes.

My nurse friend’s healthcare worker mother from the Bronx who continued to take care of the patients during the pandemic, my COVID-19 survivor colleague, a virologist himself, who now dedicates his time in the lab to find a vaccine – are among hundreds of thousands of heroes here, in New York City.

Then there are other heroes from around the country: an aging and retired farmer from North East Kansas sent one of his five N95 masks left over from his farming days to save a nurse or a doctor when New York became the epicenter of COVID-19 infection and we didn’t have enough N95 masks to protect the healthcare workers taking care of the infected patients.

Breath, 2020, Digital C-Print on Kodak Endura Matte Paper, Edition of 3 + 1 AP, 14” x 11”, courtesy of Ronald Vill / Thomas Nickles Project

As I continued my solitary exploration of the reopened art galleries in lower Manhattan, I found another hero from behind the scenes – an artist named Ronald Vill.

Thomas Nickles Project at 47 Orchard St is exhibiting 28 limited edition prints carefully curated from 71 digital drawings created by Ronald Vill, who shares his intimate visual diary of enforced confinement from Havana, Cuba. The gallery is offering high-resolution downloads of all the images from this show for free or a pay-what-you-wish amount, with all proceeds going to the Global Giving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund!

Voice, 2020, Digital C-Print on Kodak Endura Matte Paper, Edition of 3 + 1 AP, 11” x 14”, courtesy of Ronald Vill / Thomas Nickles Project

Drawing inspirations from Sakura blossoms in Japanese culture, that represent renewal and optimism during the onset of Spring, the series of illustrations intertwining scenes of human lives with the flower, in both macroscopic and microscopic views, tell the story to combat the confinement and the fear of death. Ronald, in his illustrated diary, casts himself as El Zorro (the fox) and ironically represents the virus with Sakura flower that invades his life in unexpected ways.

Shout of Sakura, 2020, Digital C-Print on Kodak Endura Matte Paper Edition of 3 AP, 12” x 12”, courtesy of Ronald Vill / Thomas Nickles Project

The online exhibit on the gallery website includes a documentary film on the motivation and the artistic process of Ronald. Towards the last scene of the film, the audience face the question – how can an artist help to fight this pandemic? Thomas Nickles Project and Ronald’s answer to that question is to spread art like the virus but in a healing way, with all the proceeds going to the Global Giving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, and, to run this exhibition online until a vaccine is found!

Without Cure, 2020, Digital C-Print on Kodak Endura Matte Paper Edition of 3 + 1 AP, 11” x 14”, courtesy of Ronald Vill / Thomas Nickles Project

A capitalist reader perhaps would immediately question about what dollar amount from this noble project worth how many human lives. But, given the current social and political situation in this country, even those readers cannot shut their eyes from how only caring about money without any empathy possesses the threat to destroy the world’s largest economy! Thanks to Thomas Nickles Project and Ronald Vill to join hands with millions of empathic heroes in a city that has been recently designated as an anarchist jurisdiction!

Featured gallery is this post:

El Zorro Y La Flor installation; Photograph courtesy Thomas Nickles Project and Ronald Vill

Thomas Nickles Project, 47 Orchard St, NY NY 10002, Gallery Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 11 AM – 6 PM.

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