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Artist in Carmel offers free portraits of coronavirus victims

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — A professional artist from Carmel is offering her services to help grieving families.

She’s doing portraits of their loved ones who have passed due to the coronavirus.

This time isn’t easy for Sabrina Zhou and her husband who are both artists. They rely on art shows and private lessons to survive; both have been unavailable during the pandemic.

Still, she wants to use her talents to help others.

For Zhou, the job of bringing someone to life, someone you’ve never met, starts with the eyes.

“I want to see the eyes, the eyes are very expressive,” she said. “I really like that smile on his face,” pointing to a picture of Jim Baker on her computer. She’s working off of for her portrait.

Baker is alongside his bride and high school sweetheart in the photo. Baker died recently, a victim of the coronavirus.

“For me, I didn’t know them, but it is very heartbreaking,” she said.

But Zhou is doing what she can to help hearts heal. 

Some make face masks. Some donate money. Zhou is using her talents as an artist to help a grieving family.

“Hopefully help the families feel a little better going through a hard time.”

It’s not easy.

Her livelihood has dried up in the pandemic. 

She’s a mom of two kids. In fact, her basement studio shares the space with a gated play area for her 2-year-old. She’s pledged to do 50 portraits to those who reach out.

A color pastel such as Baker’s takes about four hours and would normally go for $260, so that the total value of her offering could be $13,000. But she’s doing each one for free.

“I hope the portrait gives them a very nice memory of the past,” she said.

The project is even more personal because she grew up in the province next to Wuhan, China, just about a five-hour drive.

Her extended family is safe over there, but friends have suffered.

As for when she’s done with a portrait, she just knows. It’s not that Baker looks like his photograph — it’s that he’s better than his picture.

“I hope it’s better than the photograph. I know it’s done when I’m satisfied,” she said.

Sabrina’s first subject was Paul Loggan, the former North Central athletics director.

Baker is her seventh. So far she’s done four people from Indiana, two from Conneticut and one from Michigan so word of mouth is spreading.

“I can’t imagine how much hard times they’re going through so I want to help a little.”

Judging by the cards and emails she’s received, she’s doing a lot more than that, even though as a mom she only gets about two hours each morning for her art.

You can reach out to her through her website.