Artist honors medical staff

IPSWICH — Drawing inspiration from the work of medical professionals fighting COVID-19, a local artist has painted her thanks.

Using her cousin as a model, Lettie Crowley-McLaughlin’s eight-by-four-foot artwork can be seen outside in fair weather on Mt. Pleasant Avenue.

“Making this painting has been my way of processing my own feelings and of expressing my deep appreciation for the many who have sacrificed so much in caring for us,” she said on Facebook.

“I was inspired to paint this by my downstairs neighbor/friend, who had painted some signs about thanks and togetherness to put in our front yard,” she said when contacted later by the Ipswich Local News.

“Watching her work put me in a space of reflection. I have multiple family members working in the medical field, so I reached out to them for images and explained what I was hoping to do,” Crowley-McLaughlin said.

“This is actually an image of my cousin, Ashley [Benson], who is a CNA working at North Shore Medical Center in Salem,” she added.

Crowley-McLaughlin, who described herself as an artist, registered art therapist, mental health counselor, and “mother of Potato the Chihuahua,” said the painting is a community art piece.

Her plan is to incorporate messages of gratitude either on the painting or on separate panels.

The first letter is from her mother, Denise Bouchard, “a candidate and soon-to-be graduate for her doctorate in nursing.” Bouchard, who lives in Belfast, Maine, specializes in addiction medicine.

Crowley-McLaughlin said she has done community artwork before, “particularly with underserved populations in Massachusetts and with Native American children in South Dakota.”

“For me, creating this image and working ‘big’ were ways to express and process the magnitude of my own feelings, and I thought that it might be healing or supportive for others as well,” she said.

“My assumption is that most of us have loved ones who are at risk right now for various reasons. It’s been a challenge for me managing my own anxiety at times, and holding ambiguity and ‘the unknown’ as each week passes had been hard,” she added.

“My hope was to contribute to the atmosphere of togetherness and supportiveness that I have already witnessed in my community, Crowley-McLaughlin said.

People are welcome — in fine weather and “cognizant of physical distancing” — to pass by to view the work. The artist is also inviting people to send messages of gratitude that can be incorporated into the painting.

She hopes to donate the piece to a local hospital in the future, if possible. People can reach her at





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