We all are impacted one way or another by COVID_19. Some of us try to ignore it, some us tolerate the unpredictability and stress, while others view the pandemic as a vehicle for love and service. In a recent newsletter, you met Aurora Brunel who has embraced this time to sew and provide masks and protective gear for people across the globe. See:https://www.schneidercoachinggroup.com/masks-of-hope/ Aurora and her committee of angels continue to sew around the clock and provide protective face coverings for people in need.
I am fortunate to have another friend, Joni Zavitsanos, who has also seized this pandemic as an opportunity to use her artistic gifts to create art commemorating those who have fallen to COVID_19.
Joni is an accomplished artist who is influenced by Byzantine Iconography. What makes Joni’s art unique is that she melds the ancient past with the present. Because words are unable to do any justice to her creations, you can see her website here: https://jonizavitsanos.com/about/
Joni like many of us deeply feels the impact of the virus and destruction it causes to so many. In her desire to learn more about the people it has touched, she began searching the internet for names of people in Houston and surrounding counties who have died of the virus. Her quest started as human interest, then she says it became an “obsession” as she began to make connections with the family members of the people who had passed. Joni personally seeks out and speaks with family members who have relatives who have died of COVID_19. Because she has gotten much deserved media attention about this project, people are now calling her eager to share their stores of loved ones. Not surprisingly, Joni forms deep connections with them as she hears stories of each and every son, daughter, wife, or child she interviews. She has spoken to the families of incarcerated men, prison guards, and people from all walks of life in our community. Each story became precious to her, and Joni was compelled to honor their stories in the way that she knows best-her iconic expression of how she sees the world. By creating a series of images of the people who died from COVID_19, Joni has personified each one of them. She explains of her vision, “ We are all saints here on earth with good and bad, and we are all struggling.” As people pass on, she envisions them crowned as saints in heaven. She goes on, “All of them have people who loved them.”
The artwork Joni has created for this undertaking is an 8×8 wooden canvas with a photocopy of the person’s picture. Sometimes, Joni adds a personal touch to the piece. To complete the work, Joni adds a simple gold leaf halo, completing the saints theme. At this time Joni is searching for a location to have a memorial service where the art can be displayed enabling family and friends to finally join as one and celebrate the lives of those lost through COVID_19.
Through her passion, Joni has found comfort during this tragedy. Although her work is both emotionally and psychically draining, she continues on, striving to honor everyone in our community that has died from the virus. Joni Zavitsanos embodies true passion and intuition, selfless service to others, as well as creativity and love. Thank you Joni for embracing this opportunity and sharing yourself with all of us. You are a true inspiration.