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Artist sketches faces of front-line workers

A Lebanon County man is making sure we don't forget essential workers when this pandemic is a thing of the past.

LEBANON COUNTY, Pa. — We see them everyday: the cashier, the pizza shop worker, and the hospital housekeeper. A Lebanon County man is making sure we don't forget them when this pandemic is a thing of the past.

Dressed in a green kilt and matching green knee socks, 66-year-old retired marine combat artist Mike Fay emphatically snapped photos of workers at WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital, eventually to draw.

"These stories are written in peoples' faces," Fay said. "And it's very interesting now drawing people with masks on. So you gotta tell the story with their body language and just with their eyes."

The first person's story he wanted to tell was Linda Felty's.

"I was out there, trying to mop the floor up and everything," she said. 

Turns out Linda has been a WellSpan housekeeper for 31 years, perhaps doing one of the most important jobs of all.

"We keep the hospital clean," Linda said. "Ya know, I was flattered that he talked to me. And he took photographs of me. I mean I felt special, I felt honored he had chosen me."

Linda's sketch is part of a bigger project, called "The Emergent Warriors of the Pandemic." The exhibit is a collaboration of more than 40 artists' work from across the country.

He's also sketched the faces of other essential workers - at the grocery store and local pizza shop.

"These are the people we take for granted," Fay said. "I take them for granted, ya know? You might see their little name-tag as they are checking you out. Well now they've got a mask on, they are behind a little plastic screen. They are as tired as they ever were. But we're helping to remember them and make them more a part of our lives."

It took him only two hours to draw Linda.

"You could see in her eyes she was tired," Fay said. "She was dedicated to her job, she's a widow. Without her, I mean the doctors can scrub up all they want but these women are keeping the place pristine. You can only do that with dedication."

"I'm blown away by it," Linda said. "I was thrilled at how much it looked like me. I mean he's an excellent sketcher."

As for the kilt...

"The kilt is a way for me to visually tell the story," Fay laughed. "Not only about myself, but all of my ancestors that made it here. People need something that's different."

No word yet on when or where the art exhibit will take place. In the meantime, mike and other artists are posting their work on the exhibit's Facebook page.