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Stories of first responders inspire students to create art

The COVID Pandemic Responders Art Project started as an interview series, but became an art project for students from 3 northwest Ohio high schools.

TIFFIN, Ohio — How could you properly describe what a total stranger went through during the pandemic?

That was the task some local high schoolers took on as they aimed to share the stories of first responders.

14 first-hand accounts from first responders during the pandemic.

John Schupp, a volunteer instructor at Calvert High School, reached out to these men and women across the country but wasn't sure what to do with the incredible stories he gathered.

So he asked a fellow art teacher at Calvert for help.

"How do you connect that generation of people affected to the other generation who don't care as you read about the news? And I thought what if we have those high school students listen to their stories and create art based on what they heard in the story," said Schupp.

That's how the COVID Pandemic Responders Art Project was born.

The interviews were shared with art students from Tiffin Calvert, Tiffin Columbian and also Fostoria High School.

Each student picked one first responder's story, used that story to inspire an original piece of art and then showcased the finished product at The Ritz Theater.

Credit: Jon Monk
Each student chose an interview, and presented their finished piece to the first responder who inspired it.
Credit: Jon Monk
Students had full liberty to create their art based on interviews from first responders
Credit: Jon Monk/WTOL 11 (Art by Jack Schultz)
"The chains kind of symbolize the bond that happened between the patients and the nurses in New York City because of the restrictions of not being able to see their families," explained Calvert senior Jack Schultz.

"The chains kind of symbolize the bond that happened between the patients and the nurses in New York City because of the restrictions of not being able to see their families," explained Calvert senior Jack Schultz, describing his work pictured above.

Many of the first responders accepted their painting in person and will be able to take the piece home.

Along with bringing two seemingly not connected walks of life together, these young artists say their works can be universally appreciated by anyone who has struggled through the last year and a half.

"It's also something that they can see and be like, I know what that feels like. I understand what that's coming from, because we all had to go into isolation and we all had to deal with it at one point," said Columbian junior Mia Peacock.

And it was just announced that these three schools will be participating in this project again this fall, but the artwork will be showcased at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C.

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