Portraits of Power: Praise and Appreciation for “Essential Workers”


Alison Wright has spent over two decades documenting changing cultures around the globe through her powerful photographs of people and places. BMAC is proud to present Wright’s first solo show, Grit and Grace, Women at Work, which celebrates and honors women who are showing up and doing the jobs that their families and communities require, despite challenging situations. The photos in the exhibit depict women from all around the world, from textile workers in Bangladesh to pearl divers in Japan. 

Here are three photographs by Alison Wright from Liberia, a country on the west coast of Africa. (Click to enlarge)

Each of the women in the photos is performing a valuable service in her community. As you look at the photographs, do these portraits remind you of people doing similar work where you live? 

We are in an unprecedented time right now where everyday life has been turned upside down. Let’s honor those in our cities, towns, and neighborhoods who are doing the most difficult work—showing resilience and plenty of grit and grace with their actions. Have you heard that every night at 7 p.m. in New York City, people lean out of their windows banging pots and pans, blowing whistles, and clapping to show appreciation for all those at work in the hospitals, grocery stores, and other essential operations?


Use these frames to draw or paint a portrait of someone you know who deserves to be recognized. Then share it on Instagram and be sure to tag it with #BMACportraits. In the caption, tell us why you want others to know about this person. (If you’re not on Instagram, you can email your portrait and caption to gallery@brattleboromuseum.org for a chance to be featured in an online gallery.)

You can also create a portrait in words by following these prompts:

Think of someone you admire who is a shining star and sets an example by working hard in tough circumstances. Write down descriptive words and phrases that answer these questions…

What does the person look like?

Where do they work? (Create a vivid picture with your words)

How are they helping others?

Then circle the words that you think are the best and rearrange them to create a 6-word poem about your person.


April 21, 2020, will mark the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and what would have been the 80th birthday of Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai. Maathai was a champion for women and the environment. She established the Green Belt Movement in Kenya and worked tirelessly to alleviate poverty and the destruction of natural resources by getting women to plant trees in their communities. Maathai spent time in southern Vermont and was a woman of grit and grace! You can learn more about Wangari Maathai’s life by watching the award-winning documentary Taking Root, produced by Marlboro filmmakers Lisa Merton and Alan Dater. Click here for an inspiring video she narrated. She made a difference, and you can too!

Trees give us many gifts by providing habitat for birds and other animals, cleaning the air, and bringing water to arid lands through their root systems. You can improve the health of your community by caring for or planting trees. Here’s a resource to learn more.

On a smaller scale, you can plant a wildflower garden to attract pollinators. Here’s a recipe for “Wildflower Bombs” to toss in your yard.