There’s something about the two color drawings by Chelsea’s Jaylee Ortiz that has captured this moment in the City’s history in a way that grabbed everyone’s attention.
Ortiz, 15, is a sophomore at Chelsea High School (CHS) and a member of the REACH program there when school is normally in session. Over the past eight weeks, she said she has seen so much in her hometown that has happened, that she needed to express herself. REACH Director Stephanie Rodriguez suggested Ortiz use the time to express herself through her drawings.
That produced, so far, two drawings that are showing up everywhere in Chelsea and to other parts of the state as well while the spotlight shines on the City as it becomes the epicenter of the COVID-19 battle in New England.
One of the drawings is a nurse in a mask and gloves flexing her muscles with the Mystic/Tobin Bridge and Chelsea High behind her. A second drawing depicts a National Guard solider at City Hall giving eggs to a resident in a mask.
“I’ve had a thing for drawing since I was a kid in elementary school,” she said, noting that she also attended the Williams School and the Hooks Elementary. “They always had me put in the art show. I enjoy that I’m able to put what I see in my mind on paper and people understand what I’m saying. It’s something that keeps me calm. I’m the type of person that if you catch me in class, you’ll see a lot of doodles on my paper because it keeps me focused.”
Interestingly, Ortiz isn’t an artist in any of the CHS programs or doesn’t take any classes to perfect her art, but simply likes to convey what she sees to others.
These days, that includes seeing the city she calls home upended, with people bravely going to work in health care facilities and other essential jobs and others waiting in long lines just to get food for their families.
She said she wants her drawings to represent hope.
“Both of my drawings are to represent hope,” she said. “I’m still very hopeful. I’m hopeful because people are motivated to go to work and they are brave. People are trying to feed their families. It makes me motivated that people are still trying. It’s very difficult now, but people haven’t given up.”
Supt. Almi Abeyta said she was very inspired when she saw Ortiz’s drawings.
She saw them on Facebook and immediately reached out to Rodriguez about them. Soon, they were on the Chelsea Public Schools website, and then the City of Chelsea had posted them on their online channels. Now, Abeyta said some state education organizations have asked to post them as well – as they symbolize what many believe is a hope for Chelsea during tough times.
“It makes me really happy to know people appreciate it,” she said. “I really want people to know how thankful I am that they appreciate what I’ve done.”