Coronavirus: Superhero sculpture ‘thanks’ New York health workers

Artist Benat Iglesias Lopez and his young son found a unique way to thank hospital staff

The thank you sculpture outside Mount Sinai hospital. Courtesy Benat Iglesias Lopez
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Workers and patients at a New York Hospital encountered an unusual thank you message for their role in the coronavirus fight this week.

A sculpture of a young superhero, complete with cape and appropriate face mask appeared suddenly outside Mount Sinai Hospital to the delight of passing medical workers.

The statue was created by a father and son duo, who came up with the idea while on their daily walk through their local park.

"While playing superheroes at the park, he wanted to fight the coronavirus but couldn't quite figure out how, neither could he put a face to it, so the whole thing seemed a bit abstract for him," Spanish artist and New York resident Benat Iglesias Lopez told The National.

Mr Iglesias and four-year-old Teo discussed ways they could help in the fight against the virus, primarily by taking precautions not to become infected, but also by showing appreciation for frontline workers, because by putting their lives at risk "they are making sure all our community’s needs are met during this difficult time," he said.

The pair hatched a plan to build a sculpture of a young superhero holding a sign reading "ThAnK YoU" in bright letters and place it outside New York's Mount Sinai hospital. Teo even signed the sculpture after it was completed.

The city has been rocked by the coronavirus crisis, experiencing 167,000 cases and almost 13,000 deaths. Most of the city's over eight million inhabitants are in lockdown in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus, except essential workers like supermarket and medical staff.

The sculpture took two weeks to create, then the father-son team needed to decide where to place it.

"My son made sure to tell me that we should not put it on top of a tree because it will make it difficult for doctors and nurses to see it, so we agreed on placing it on a bench," Mr Iglesiais said.

Since then, the responses in person and online have been "humbling".

"I have witnessed kids approaching the sculpture and engaging into conversations with their parents, people who left with a smile, as well as people crying in front of it."

One health worker even sought out the artist's Instagram page: "Gracias! I saw this work of art after my shift and it brought such delightfulness to my spirit," they wrote.

Someone placed an umbrella over the sculpture when it began to rain.

Mr Iglesias is used to having his work displayed in New York. His work The Bathers was installed in Riverside Park in 2013.

The New York Historical Society has shown interest on acquiring the ThAnK YoU sculpture, Mr Iglesias said, in an effort to document the pandemic and the response to it.

The project has helped Mr Iglesias to teach his son a valuable lesson.

"Every single person can make a difference and help others during difficult times, by simply applying their own personal skills and taking action."