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By Turner Houston


This is a prototype sketch created by Turner Houston, Artist in Residence, to create a series of “superhero portraits” in conversation with healthcare staff. Her concept, via Zoom or in person: “I would interview the staffer about how they are doing; what the experience being at the hospital during this pandemic has been like for them; what super-powers of theirs did they draw upon to get through the stress?

There would be the notes I was taking during the conversation: adjectives describing how they felt during the madness, lists of superpowers they drew upon, and lists of things they wish they had more of. I would then start sketching them as a Super Hero, with their input along the way--did they want to be an invincible Super Hero? A stealthy, invisible one? Did they want more hands/arms? Did they want some sort of magical ray gun to zap out microbes?

My listening would be a big part of the experience. But their being able to see what they are telling me come alive in a sketch would solidify to them that I AM HEARING THEM. 

And the experience of watching someone draw (or paint or sculpt) you is calming,  mesmerizing and oddly empowering. Most people have perhaps only had such an experience at a fair where a cartoonist draws an exaggerated you. But experiencing someone LOOK AT and SEE YOU and SHOW YOU WHAT YOU'RE TELLING THEM is profoundly validating.”

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