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Pandemic portraits: Seattle artist honoring medical workers

Jayashree Krishnan is capturing the faces of medical workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic in Seattle.

SEATTLE — Local artist Jayashree Krishnan left her job as a mathematician at Seattle University a few years ago to pursue he art full time. 

She wasn’t sure what direction her work would take but quickly found success in everything from landscapes to portraits. Little did she know her most valuable work would be a passion project she never expected to launch in March. 

The coronavirus pandemic led her to talking with some family members who are in the medical field. When she learned about how hard their day-to-day was she decided to do what she could to capture the history shift in our society and started by painting a portrait of her cousins.

“They’re both doctors and those portraits got posted online and got a lot of attention," she said.

Jayashree received praise for capturing the real faces of medical workers. A neighbor suggested she consider working with local hospitals. 

Krishnan painted more than 38 portraits of medical workers at Seattle’s Virginia Mason, over the past few months. 

“Not just doctors and nurses, but also pharmacists and people who work cleaning the ER,” she said. 

The portraits now hang in several Virginia Mason locations and Krishnan says that’s where they should be. 

“Of course, art can hang in a gallery but to know my portraits of the workers are hanging in the hospitals is special. It’s an honor and hanging my work there is so much more meaningful,” she said. 

The Pandemic Portrait series inspired a greater effort and Krishnan has been busy painting multiple portraits a day for weeks. 

She has sent portraits to teams of medical workers she’s never even met. 

“I just send a whole shipment to Philadelphia and it’s full circle when I get to see a picture of them holding their portrait.”