Courtesy Briahna Wenke

As cities across the country wage a war against the coronavirus, local artist Bri Wenke felt compelled to do something for health care workers heading into their jobs every day. As a painter, “tucked safely away” in her Charleston studio, Wenke realized that while she cannot head to the front lines, she can still help lift the spirits of health care workers in her own way: As a painter, she is painting.

Wenke created a #CovidHeart series of 19 original palette knife paintings of human hearts for nurses, ER workers, and doctors who come into contact with coronavirus patients on a daily basis.

“To every warrior on the front line right now, we see you,” says Wenke.

Wenke asked her social media followers to send her the names and contact info of health care workers in their lives — the response was overwhelming. She received more than 60 submissions. Wenke randomly selected the recipients of her 19 heart paintings, and she hopes to still create something for the other 40 plus folks who were submitted.

She’ll also be taking on made-to-order hearts. “A lot of us can’t be with our loved ones right now,” says Wenke. “You can send them a heart, though.” If you’re buying one for your loved one, 20 percent of the proceeds are going to Together We Rise, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting youth in foster care.

And if you’re wondering why Wenke decided to depict real human hearts, not the kind you find on a greeting card, the answer is simple: “Each of these abstracted human anatomy creations stands as a symbol of strength, endurance, and compassion — as raw as a human heart — marking this strange historical time we’re all living in right now.” —Connelly Hardaway

Love Best of Charleston?

Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.