Last week, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston unveiled a powerful new painting, transposing the inspirational “Rosie the Riveter” character from the WWII era into the 21st century coronavirus crisis.
The artist, Wagner College art professor Antonio Reonegro, had contracted the virus himself, along with his family, early in the lockdown. All got better.
“During the height of the Covid crisis I felt so helpless,” Reonegro told us. “My family had recovered, and we were grateful it was behind us. I was drawing every day and teaching my photography class remotely, but I was looking to do something special.
“Then I got an email from my longtime friend Dr. Peter Masiakos, a pediatric trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital. He explained what they were going through in Boston, and how much the staff was doing to keep everyone safe,” Reonegro said. “He sent me a few photos of resident surgeons posing as Rosie the Riveter and asked me if I would consider making something special for the staff.”
Reonegro decided to do a very large painting based on the “Rosie” motif incorporating many, many more images in the background — between 50 and 75 photos of hospital staff, both modern and archival — under the motto, “We Can Do It Together!”
“Looking at all the photos of the front-line responders, I could feel the emotion just from the expressions in their eyes, some happy and others tired, and many with smiles,” Reonegro said.
“Donating this painting to the MGH hospital staff, for me, was an honor,” he said. “I hope it will be a reminder for future generations of what we all went through, and all the people who stood by us every day to keep us safe.”
Click here to read an article about the installation of “We Can Do It Together!” published last week in the Boston Globe
Watch a short video of the project:
More about Wagner College photography professor Antonio Reonegro
An article about his 2012 exhibition in the Wagner College Gallery of his most famous work, a collection of backstage tour passes he created for the iconic jam band, the Grateful Dead
A short profile on the Soaring Words website about Reonegro’s early career