Professor Murphy’s ‘Portraits for Heroes’

Professor Murphy’s ‘Portraits for Heroes’

Artist Bill Murphy (top) and several of his ‘Portraits for Heroes’

Retired Wagner College art professor Bill Murphy told us recently about a new project.

“I’ve been doing a number of portraits of nurses and doctors who are on the front line, treating Covid patients,” Bill said. “On Instagram, a movement was formed called #portraitsfornhsheroes to link artists up with health care workers in England. I’m doing the same kind of thing here, and there is a huge demand. Very rewarding.”

How did the project get started?

“I saw a lot of British artists on Instagram offering to do NHS workers portraits, and found it intriguing. I was impressed with the idea,” he said. “I wanted to do work that addressed the pandemic, and I wanted to try to contribute in some very small way toward making things better.”

We asked Bill how he chose his subjects.

“I put out the offer on Facebook,” he said. “Within a few days I had enough interest to keep me going for a while. I even heard from someone in England who wanted a portrait.”

One of the portraits shown here, at the bottom of the series, is of Rachel Albom Lucente.

“I’m a nurse practitioner; I work as a primary care provider,” Rachel told Bill. “I became a nurse in 1998, and I was a trauma nurse during 9/11.

“In March, I was swabbing patients for weeks until I wound up getting the virus myself,” Rachel said. “Thank God I recovered well, and I am seeing patients now via teledoc.”

Once Bill finishes with his portraits, he makes high-detail scans for digital exhibition and gives the originals to the careworkers.

“I exhibit them on Facebook and Instagram,” he said.

The best place to see Bill Murphy’s portraits of doctors and nurses, he says, is on his Instagram. Here are links to a couple of them: Peggy (shown here, second from the bottom), “who’s been caring for covid patients in their homes,” and Kim Murphy (third from the top), “another drawing for front line health workers.”

“Eventually, I will probably post them on my website,” he added, “but since they are an unusual work for me, I need to figure out where.”

Bill Murphy began teaching art part-time at Wagner in 1984, joining the full-time faculty in 1994 while earning his MFA from Vermont College. He studied art at Brooklyn College, the School of Visual Arts, and the Art Students League. A Staten Island native, he is known for his drawings, etchings, watercolors, and paintings based on Staten Island settings or other New York City locations. His work is held in significant collections including the British Museum, the New York Public Library, the New-York Historical Society, the Library of Congress, and the Brooklyn Museum. Bill retired from teaching last year. To learn more about him and his work, visit his website.