Student Art Project Pays Tribute to Cooley Dickinson Healthcare Workers

NORTHAMPTON — Seven months ago, high-school senior Liza Pobezinskaya watched the COVID-19 pandemic unfold on TV and social media and thought about what she could do to help. The 17-year old quickly realized she could share her appreciation for healthcare workers in the one way she knew how: through her love of art and a network of like-minded friends.

Pobezinskaya contacted the art students as she knew, while her art teacher at Amherst-Pelham Regional High School, Jeffery Stauder, reached out to former art students. Pobezinskaya’s goal was to share her gratitude by creating portraits of healthcare workers.

She recruited 17 artists —nine students, seven alumni, and her closest friend from Maryland — to support her cause. Artists were given minimal instructions and a link to the Cooley Dickinson website, where they could choose an image of a healthcare worker to replicate in their chosen medium.

“I was able to create Khama Ennis [a doctor in the Emergency Department] in about three to four days,” said Pobezinskaya, who drew Ennis’ portrait using colored pencils. Other artists completed their portraits in a few weeks.

Ennis said it was incredibly touching to receive the portrait and to see the other portraits Pobezinskaya inspired her classmates to make. “Thank you to Liza and the other artists for thinking of the team here as we continue to do our best to care for our patients and the community.”

Pobezinskaya came to appreciate healthcare workers last year as a junior volunteer at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

“I loved getting to know the staff, building connections, and getting an inside look at what it was like there,” she added. “I especially enjoyed volunteering on North 3, where I talked to patients and got to know some of them.”

Director of Volunteer Services Robin Kline onboarded Pobezinskaya when she started as a junior volunteer and was excited to offer guidance for the art project. “Liza is a creative and caring individual who was able to harness the transformative power of art to create a community of caring. Those connections make an incredible difference to others, just as her caring connections made a difference to our patients when she volunteered here.”

With the portrait project behind her, Liza says her love of art and of healthcare continue. Her plans, she said, include “pursuing my dream of becoming a doctor while painting and creating art in my spare time.”