Last year, at seven o’clock throughout New York City and its surrounding areas, you would hear a crescendo of sound emerging from the silent, empty streets, as people appeared at their windows with makeshift instruments and cheers to welcome healthcare workers, building staff, and other frontline workers home. Every day, without fail, the sound of solidarity and hope that has come to define the people of New York would rise in the evening in the face of escalating death tolls with unwavering courage and compassion.
PORTRAITS OF GRACE is a project born of that spirit. Its purpose is to remember those indelible moments that brought New Yorkers through the staggering losses and the shared triumphs, and to also honor our city’s anonymous heroes, “the saints next door.”
The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture in partnership with the Anglosphere Society, the Knights of Columbus, and contributing members, the Archdiocese of New York, America Media, and the National Review Institute, present a multi-media digital experience comprised of photographs, testimonials, videos, and hybrid live events that are intended to honor our frontline workers and commemorate this shared chapter of unimaginable loss and commensurate heroism in world history.
This exhibit seeks to capture the profoundly human and transcendent moments of the pandemic, witnessed every day in 2020. We begin the telling of our story with the understanding that, as New Yorkers, we walked through the valleys of 2020 together. We also invite our fellow companions on the journey, each of whom lived their own tragedies and triumphs — great and small — to find solace and a place where you too can share your story and be heard.
Phase one of the launch focuses on the acts of service performed with immediacy and selflessness throughout the Archdiocese of New York — in parishes, schools, neighborhoods, hospitals, and food pantries at the peak of the pandemic. “This exhibition shows the beauty, the mission and the heroism of the Catholic Faith in action,” observes Jeffery Bruno, creative director, photographer and the curator of the phase one launch.
In phase two, we will see and hear from the nurses, doctors, priests, vowed religious women and men, lay personnel, and caregivers who ensured that the people of New York, especially the most vulnerable, had the services required to survive the crisis —- some of whom returned home to cheers in the evening and others who never made it back. Through this digital exhibition, we celebrate them both, as we endeavor to make our way forward, in solidarity.
PORTRAITS OF GRACE is an organic, creative enterprise and will be released in stages with the first phase of retrospective photographs and videos published here this summer and the second phase of expanded storytelling and hybrid live events, planned for the fall of 2021.