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UK artists put creative talents to work answering colleagues’ call for PPE donations during pandemic


By Whitney Hale
University of Kentucky

From sculpting art and painting brushstrokes to crafting lines of dialogue, building scenery and designing costumes, artists use their hands to bring their work to life.

And now as the Bluegrass, like the rest of the world, fights a pandemic, University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts’ artists are using their hands to create, as well as collect, personal protective equipment (PPE) for colleagues at UK HealthCare.

UK College of Fine Arts is funding the materials for the cloth masks made by a team of volunteers led by SAVS’ Rae Goodwin and Crystal Gregory. (Photo by Crystal Gregory)

Under the leadership of UK School of Arts and Visual Studies’ Rae Goodwin, professor and director of Foundations, and Crystal Gregory, assistant professor of fiber arts, faculty and staff from across the college’s four programs — SAVS, Department of Theatre and Dance, Department of Arts Administration and School of Music — have answered UK HealthCare’s call for donations.

Between UK Theatre and Dance’s Costume and Scenic Studios and volunteers organized by Goodwin and Gregory, the college has already been able to create close to 500 cloth masks to give to health care providers.

In addition, and in partnership with the departments of Biology and Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, UK faculty and staff have donated around 20 pairs of safety glasses, face shields, specialized protective hoods, a gallon of alcohol, more than 40 N95 masks, multiple boxes of nitrile gloves, and canisters of Lysol wipes.

As Gov. Andy Beshear has noted in his daily COVID-19 briefings, it is donations like this that have added up significantly for those health care facilities in need across the state, and UK College of Fine Arts is honored to rally for the cause. “As my father always said to me, ‘Do what you can, when you can, while you can,’” said Tony Hardin, chair of UK Theatre and Dance.

UK College of Fine Arts faculty and staff have donated close to 500 cloth masks to UK HealthCare to date.

And this is just the beginning, as Goodwin and Gregory will continue to collect cloth masks twice a week for UK HealthCare from the framework of volunteers they have organized for the foreseeable future. This is being made possible with financial support from the college, which is helping fund materials.

“This collaboration Crystal and I have with UK HealthCare feels critically important to us both,” Goodwin said. “Personally, my father was a hospital administrator dealing with emergency management, so I grew up knowing the importance of our health care system and its preparedness.

“Also, my mother and grandmothers were excellent at sewing, and in using their machines to create PPE I feel a greater connection with them. This feels urgent, helping health care workers everywhere is a critical thing to do right now. We are so grateful to them!”

Those who are interested in joining the College of Fine Arts’ sew-at-home network should email Crystal Gregory at crystal.gregory@uky.edu.

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