Windsor·Photos

Artist and PSW creates pandemic portraits to share stories of COVID-19

Beth Kyle has been creating art since she was a young girl, and is now using her craft to share stories of the pandemic.

Home-care personal support worker Beth Kyle says her art is an outlet for stress she feels

Beth Kyle is a home-care personal support worker and an artist who is using her work to tell stories of the pandemic. This piece is called Moment of Preparation. (Submitted by Beth Kyle)

Beth Kyle has been creating art since she was a young girl, but has now focused her efforts on telling stories of the pandemic. 

Kyle is also a personal support worker who does home-care in Windsor, Ont., leaning on her artistry as a way to release some of the stress she's feeling. 

She sees about eight patients each day, and that requires changing her personal protective equipment eight times as well — exhausting enough as it is. But even still, she says her safety is at risk. 

As a PSW, Kyle sees about eight patients each day and must change into fresh personal protective equipment each visit. (Submitted by Beth Kyle)

"The scary part is, is when you do your your [COVID-19] questionnaire before you go into each home ... you hope that they're not lying to you, but you take that chance every single time you walk into somebody's home, because sometimes people don't want to tell you the truth, which has happened to me, actually," said Kyle.

"You're just kind of walking in blinded and hoping that people are honest, hoping that you're not walking into, you know, any desperate situation and not just for us, but for them as well, because they don't know where I've been. "

Kyle said many of the seniors she cares for are "terrified" by the pandemic, and she carries the burden of being the only person some of them see at all. 

"They're terrified because if they get it, their chances of survival are very slim," she said. "I may be the only smiling face they see in weeks because they can't see family. They can't see their children, they can't see grandchildren. It's very hard. I might be the only person they see."

A portrait of Beth's husband Damien Kyle. Beth said Damien is a truck driver, who is often forgotten as an essential worker. (Submitted by Beth Kyle)

Kyle decided to take her experiences and turn it into art. 

"Lately what I've been doing is documenting different health care workers and different seniors," she said.

The feedback has been huge, said Kyle, who has received hundreds of photos of people hoping she can recreate them through her art. 

Kyle said she can't do exact portraits of her patients for privacy reasons, but she does take inspiration from them in her work. (Submitted by Beth Kyle)

"I have people sending me photographs of their loved ones that have passed away because of COVID-19, and just their  nurses, I've had doctors, I've had security guards, I've had kitchen help, paramedics, firemen."

This piece is titled 'Remember me, I am Mary.' (Submitted by Beth Kyle)

A particularly haunting image is one she made of her husband Damien, a truck driver working through this pandemic. 

Kyle said she caught her husband Damien on a hard day, and she doesn't always feel he is appreciated for the work he does. 

"I saw him and I just felt so much sympathy and compassion for how hard he works and how hard he tries to make sure our family is good," she said. "He saw me working on it, he he was just in shock. He was super happy about it. So that one has actually gotten a lot of attention."

This portrait of an ICU nurse deserved wings, said Kyle, for the work she does. (Submitted by Beth Kyle)

Kyle said that being an artist is a wonderful outlet for herself, which many people do not have. 

"I'm very lucky because I have my art and I have a place to go and I have a place to put my emotion on canvas."

LISTEN | Tap the player to hear more about Beth Kyle's work and artistry:

Being a PSW is hard work, says Beth Kyle of Windsor, and many people have misconceptions about the job. To help relieve stress, Beth has been creating beautiful pandemic portraits that she hopes will tell the stories behind the people she paints. Afternoon Drive's Chris dela Torre speaks with the artist about her work. 8:08
This portrait is titled 'Moment of Preparation,' and was created by Kyle as a way to share stories of the pandemic. (Submitted by Beth Kyle)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kaitie Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Kaitie Fraser is a reporter at CBC Windsor. Email Kaitie.Fraser@cbc.ca

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