ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - With every touch of paint and every stroke of her paintbrush, Margaret Bayalis knows she’s making a difference.
"I think, as a visual artist, I was becoming numb to the statistics and I feel that people respond better to a visual image than they do to numbers," she shared.
She started painting portraits of those who lost their lives to the virus – logging them on a Facebook page she named "Faces, Not Numbers."
"I just feel good about honoring them," she said. "It has been cathartic."
Over time, her Facebook page took off.
"I did a painting for a person in India, and I just finished one for a gentleman in Portugal, who lost his father," she explained. "I did one of someone in Spain. So it has grown, even outside of this country. When I began this, I never expected it to grow to the dimensions it has."
Bayalis does not charge the families for these paintings. She says right now, she’s completing one every couple of days. Tuesday morning she was working on the portrait of a woman named Dottie.
"The people who requested this were from Ohio, and she was a nurse," she said. "She was dearly loved by her family."
Family members who request a painting send Bayalis a photo of their loved one and she puts it on a monitor in her home studio and paints from the picture.
At last count, she has painted 56 portraits with no plans of stopping.
"These were parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, daughters, sons, you know? They were unique individuals all in their own way."
She says they are so much more than a number.
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