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A sophomore from Middletown Area High School created a piece of art that went viral

Jessica Matincheck put her own twist on the cultural icon, Rosie the Riveter, to honor healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Rosie the Riveter, reimagined. This painting has traveled from Middletown to Hershey to State College.

Credit: Jody Zorbaugh

The art was created by a talented sophomore at Middletown Area High School.

The artist herself, Jessica Matinchek explains, “I connect with art because art is a way to express yourself and your emotions, and sometimes that’s honestly hard for me because I just get anxious.”

During the height of the pandemic, when anxiety levels were running high, Jess’s high school art teacher challenged her with a special project.

She was asked to create a work of art that portrayed her feelings during the pandemic.

Jess says, “I chose to show the respect I had for nurses during this time as they were rising up during this battle to the virus. I made a prominent female figure, Rosie the Riveter reimagined as a nurse to fight COVID.”

A wall of art displayed in her at-home studio shows just some of the many female portraits she has created.

Jess’s mom had submitted her latest artwork to be considered for Penn State’s Viral Imaginations: COVID-19 Project. This online gallery portrays artwork in many different forms, created by Pennsylvanians in response to their lived experience of the coronavirus pandemic.

From there, editors of The State College Magazine discovered Jess’s version of Rosie the Riveter and thought it would be perfect for a story about the healing power of art.

“I hope that when people can look at my art, they can be calm for a few minutes. They won’t get anxious or over-worried. They can just look at it and either feel happier or feel proud or feel thankful," Jess says.

This isn’t the end of Jess’ COVID artwork, there’s more.

“I would like to work more on the impact of COVID on society both mentally and physically in the world and paint more images to represent the current stress everyone is facing because it’s become such a big part of our lives day and night," Jess explains.