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Photo courtesy of Cheryl Dunn
"Cupcake Bike."

A small group of New York-based photographers created “Pictures for Elmhurst,” a fundraising initiative to help Elmhurst Hospital purchase the life-saving equipment and resources it needs to treat COVID-19 patients.

The print photo fundraiser, which features the work of 96 New York-based photographers, will run online from Friday, April 10 to Monday, April 20. The entirely volunteer initiative was inspired by a similar fundraiser for the Pope John XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, Italy — which raised more than 700,000 Euros in just 10 days.

Brooklyn-based photographer Samantha Casolari initiated the project, knowing the photography community wanted to help what is now widely known as the “epicenter of the epicenter.”

“The most difficult thing as this lockdown began was feeling powerless to help. I was stuck at home in New York City with a 21-month old baby, unable to go outside due to an invisible threat,” Casolari said.

A spokesperson for Elmhurst Hospital, which has dedicated 95 percent of its operations to caring for COVID-19 patients, told “Pictures for Elmhurst” they are still straining to care for everyone battling the virus.

“As of early April, patients and difficult outcomes have skyrocketed,” the spokesperson said. “This has taken a devastating toll on front-line staff. In addition to the sheer exhaustion of caring for so many critically ill patients, our doctors and nurses fear for their own safety and that of their families. Many are also experiencing moral distress in the face of so many lost — in many instances, with family members never having a chance to say goodbye.”

But Casolari saw there was a way the creative community could help.

Photo courtesy of Oto Gillen

Casolari is originally from Italy and participated in the Pope John XXIII Hospital fundraiser, where Italian and international photographers also donated work to raise funds for the intensive care units overwhelmed by COVID-19.

“The project was extremely successful, so I wanted to repeat it here for Elmhurst Hospital Center, which is at the center of the pandemic in New York City and in dire need of support,” Casolari said. “In the days that followed, Jody Rogac, Vittoria Cerciello, Stefan Dufgran and Matthew Booth joined the initiative to form ‘Pictures For Elmhurst.’ The support from the photo community has been overwhelming. It’s beautiful to witness such generosity and see first-hand how much New Yorkers want to give back to their city.”

All the prints available for a donation of $150 plus $5 shipping within the U.S. or $15 internationally. For printing production, $15 will be deducted from the $150. The prints are 8.5 x 11 inches with a variable printed area depending on the aspect ratio of the photograph. All are available in an open edition, limited to the duration of the fundraiser, and are unsigned.

Griffin Editions provided printing services and the Marsé Group offered to process the funding and directly wire the hospital.

Photo courtesy of Paul Graham

As an entirely volunteer-based initiative, no profits will be made. Due to the current closure of non-essential businesses, the prints will be made and shipped when the lab resumes its normal activity.

“As has been reported in multiple news outlets, the hospital has been flooded with COVID-19 patients and is struggling to keep up with demand for both medical personnel and PPE,” Elmhurst Hospital stated in a message with the group. “Longtime Elmhurst clinicians state they have never seen anything like it — comparing today’s situation to ‘being at war’. As of early April, patients and difficult outcomes have skyrocketed.”

According to data from the Department of Health, Queens continues to lead the city’s COVID-19 crisis with 27,759 reported cases, and 1,493 people who have died due to reported complications from the virus, as of Thursday, April 9.

“The ‘Pictures for Elmhurst’ project adds desperately-needed supplies for those on the front lines fighting this virus. It is inspiring to know that such talented photographers and artists ‘have our back’ and are keeping our staff and community in mind during this terribly difficult time,” they added.

For more information and to see all of the artwork being offered, visit www.picturesforelmhurst.com.

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