Fairport native debuting ‘Portraits of the Frontline’


When Julia Maddalina offered to paint the portraits of frontline health care professionals in March 2020, the gesture was simply her way of honoring them.  

Maddalina, 25, a Fairport native living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, had just been put out of work in the first month of pandemic shutdowns. She posted on Twitter that she would donate her talents in the form of art that looks into the eyes of those workers risking their lives. 

Julia Maddalina with her “Portraits of the Frontline.”

Fifteen months later, 100 5-by-7-inch “Portraits of the Frontline” are on display at Pittsford Fine Art, 4 N. Main St., through Sept. 10. An opening reception is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. July 2 as a First Friday event.  

Maddalina said she didn’t comprehend at first how her offer would grow into 100 portraits. 

“Having no income at the time and no means to donate to charity or feel like I could make more of an impact than just staying away from others, painting portraits was all I was able to do,” she said.  

“Serena,” a geriatric psych specialist at a Rochester hospital.

As word spread on social media and frontline workers from around the nation accepted her offer and sent her their photos, a handful of portraits grew to 50. Then, it kept growing. She settled on 100 as her end point, spending about one day per portrait, all of which she posted online at portraitsofthefrontline.com with the workers’ stories of what they were experiencing when their photos were taken. 

“Hearing everyone’s stories and looking into their eyes as I paint them, I can only hope what I am doing is bringing a small bit of joy into their lives,” Maddalina said. 

“Matt,” a Rochester emergency worker who went to New York City to volunteer.

She will give the original paintings to each frontline worker. Maddalina also compiled all 100 portraits into a poster, the sales of which benefit ProjectHOPE to aid health care workers. 

Maddalina, who is moving to Pinckney, Michigan, has pursued a career in art since age 15. Her work emphasizes narrative portraiture, but she also creates fantasy and illustrative art. She graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Visit jmaddalina.myportfolio.com to view her work.  

“Christine,” a Rochester physician assistant.

Pittsford Fine Art is open from noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays-Thursdays, noon to 8 p.m. on Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays-Sundays. Parking is available in front of the gallery or at the nearby public parking lot. Visit pittsfordfineart.com for information.