Arts & Culture

UK Fine Arts Puts Creative Talents to Work Answering Call for UK HealthCare PPE Donations

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photo of Crystal Gregory's materials for making cloth masks
photo of donated cloth masks in ziploc bags

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 21, 2020) — From sculpting art and painting brushstrokes to crafting lines of dialogue, building scenery and designing costumes, artists use their hands to bring their work to life. And now as the Bluegrass, like the rest of the world, fights a pandemic, University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts’ artists are using their hands to create, as well as collect, personal protective equipment (PPE) for colleagues at UK HealthCare.

Under the leadership of UK School of Arts and Visual StudiesRae Goodwin, professor and director of Foundations, and Crystal Gregory, assistant professor of fiber arts, faculty and staff from across the college’s four programs — SAVS, Department of Theatre and Dance, Department of Arts Administration and School of Music — have answered UK HealthCare’s call for donations.

Between UK Theatre and Dance’s Costume and Scenic Studios and volunteers organized by Goodwin and Gregory, the college has already been able to create close to 500 cloth masks to give to health care providers. In addition, and in partnership with the departments of Biology and Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, UK faculty and staff have donated around 20 pairs of safety glasses, face shields, specialized protective hoods, a gallon of alcohol, more than 40 N95 masks, multiple boxes of nitrile gloves, and canisters of Lysol wipes.

As Gov. Andy Beshear has noted in his daily COVID-19 briefings, it is donations like this that have added up significantly for those health care facilities in need across the state, and UK College of Fine Arts is honored to rally for the cause. “As my father always said to me, ‘Do what you can, when you can, while you can,’” said Tony Hardin, chair of UK Theatre and Dance.

And this is just the beginning, as Goodwin and Gregory will continue to collect cloth masks twice a week for UK HealthCare from the framework of volunteers they have organized for the foreseeable future. This is being made possible with financial support from the college, which is helping fund materials.

"This collaboration Crystal and I have with UK HealthCare feels critically important to us both," Goodwin said. "Personally, my father was a hospital administrator dealing with emergency management, so I grew up knowing the importance of our health care system and its preparedness. Also, my mother and grandmothers were excellent at sewing, and in using their machines to create PPE I feel a greater connection with them. This feels urgent, helping health care workers everywhere is a critical thing to do right now. We are so grateful to them!"

If people are interested in joining the College of Fine Arts' sew-at-home network, email Crystal Gregory at crystal.gregory@uky.edu.

UK College of Fine Arts offers Kentucky's most comprehensive array of educational programs devoted to the visual and performing arts. The college is home to four academic units: School of Art and Visual Studies, Department of Arts Administration, School of Music, and Department of Theatre and Dance. The Singletary Center for the Arts, the college’s performing arts facility, supports the School of Music and presents national and international artists and speakers to facilitate the college’s mission of providing artistic and cultural experiences for the education and benefit of students, the university and the Commonwealth. The UK Art Museum is Central Kentucky's premier accredited art museum with a collection of more than 4,800 objects, which reaches more than 10,000 students and teachers annually throughout Kentucky.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.