New York – When artist Scott LoBaido installed his work “Thank You” outside the front door of Elmhurst Hospital, in one of the neighborhoods most affected by COVID-19 in New York, to thank the medical staff for their delivery. he could imagine that his work would also become an improvised altar for the victims of the pandemic.
Photos of lives stolen by the virus such as those of Nicolás Abreu or Nora Mera, artificial candles on removable tables, the image of a Christ, blue ribbons, an Our Father written in Spanish or a short obituary (“She was the best mother in the whole world “) accompany the messages of encouragement and gratitude written spontaneously by the residents of the epicenter of COVID-19.
Eight large capital letters -THANKYO U- hospital green are tied to the fence of a small park with children’s games, which remains closed as a measure to prevent the spread of the pandemic, which only in New York has claimed the lives of more of 18,000 people.RELATED
An ambulance passes and around the corner, the tent erected on the side of the hospital center to do the COVID-19 tests continues to receive people, who wait their turn keeping a distance much greater than the two meters recommended by the authorities.
Most of the few people who roam the streets of the punished Queens neighborhood have masks covered their mouths and noses.
The tragedy has taken its toll on its people, as in the neighboring areas of Corona and Jackson Heights, the eye of the COVID-19 hurricane in the United States, some working-class, immigrant and densely populated neighborhoods, despite the fact that the majority of the buildings are of few floors.
“We are one”, “I love you all”, “You are heroes and angels”, “Thank you for saving us” are some of the impromptu hand-painted messages about the letters of thanks and which are mainly written in English, but also in Spanish and some in Tibetan.
The strength of two words
Its author, LoBaido, tells Efe that he has always liked “giving people a place to go, a place to see something, to reflect”; such as the 24 empty chairs that he installed after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 in honor of the 24 inhabitants of the district where he lives – Staten Island – who died from the storm.
On April 30, artist Scott LoBaido observes his work “Thank You” installed outside the front door of Elmhurst Hospital in New York.
On this occasion, he says, he wanted to pay tribute to hospital workers and began to think about how to do it.
First he thought about making a sculpture of a nurse and standing it in front of the hospital, but then he reflected: “It doesn’t have to be a sculpture, it doesn’t have to be a painting. The two most important words in the world, in this Now, these are two words and I said to myself, I’m going to do a giant ‘Thank you’, well, nothing, no art, no paintings, no sculptures, Thank you and it has become something so strong, because it is very big ” .
“It is as simple as this, it is one of my strongest works of my entire art career. It is good because I put the motif, the stage, I set the stage for people to say: ‘Oh, let me say thank you, let me put a picture of the dead uncle. ‘Who are these people who are helping (…) and say:’ thanks for saving our lives’ You know, it’s good, it’s fantastic, “he adds.
“Thank You” is the fourth installation that New York artist Scott LoBaido has created since the coronavirus crisis erupted, and he hopes to install more in the coming weeks at other hospitals in the city.
The work has also become an improvised altar for the victims of the pandemic.
The first three he placed in health centers near his home, but when he learned that the Elmhurst hospital was being the most affected by the disease, he did not hesitate to plant his work of thanks before his door so that all his workers could see it. without even asking for permission.
He describes himself as a “patriotic artist” and his car, painted as if it were wrapped by a flag of the United States and with a huge deer antler installed on the roof and a smaller one on the hood, serves as a cover letter.
“It has become an altar and I am proud,” says an excited Lobaido along with his work, who visits for the first time since he installed it in early April to check its condition and see closely the images that have been sent to him. has been broadcast on social networks.
With his jeans full of drops of paint on a large “epic” canvas on which he is working, and while still moving and gesturing with his arms, he explains that in his other three works no one has drawn anything, that this is an exception and he is delighted.
“About two weeks ago we had a big storm and (the work broke) and someone repaired it, because they have become something, you know? They go in and out of the hospital every day, and it is simplicity that has done it Just two words and people write on it and write on paper, that’s good, “says the artist, who in 2008 painted murals across the country of the American flag.
But in this work there are no standards because, according to him, “patriotism is not waving a flag or painting the largest flag. Patriotism is doing something for your community.”
A man slowly crosses in front of the big letters, picks up the windswept candles and places them again on one of the folding tables that are now an inseparable part of this altar to thank the sacrifice of the living and remember the dead.