Artist Paints Portraits of 13 Servicemembers Killed in Afghanistan in 13 Days: ‘I Needed to Honor Them’

Kristy Dubinsky
Facebook/Kristy Dubinsky

When she heard about the suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, during which 13 United States servicemembers were killed, artist Kristy Dubinsky decided to do something very special for an art show in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The high school art teacher and artist whose specialty is in military themes, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette something inside her kept saying “paint the 13.”

“I immediately knew I needed to complete one portrait each day for 13 consecutive days for the 13 fallen heroes on 13 separate canvases. I just needed to honor them in that way – I didn’t have a choice,” she noted.

Dubinsky knew that it was September 2 and she had a mere 13 days to finish them before the big reveal.

She began working on the first portrait, Navy Corpsman Maxton “Max” Soviak, inside her classroom after school and painted the rest in her basement studio at her house in Westmoreland County.

13 paintings, 13 days, for the 13 recently taken. First painting…honoring MAX SOVIAK, Navy. Give it a follow if…

Posted by Kristy Dubinsky on Thursday, September 2, 2021

Each took hours to complete, and she worked using photographs downloaded onto her iPad.

Photos of the display showed the portraits placed in a row under blue lights:

Now through Oct 3 on display JW Marriott Grand Rapids. 13 fallen heroes painted in 13 days. Taking inquiries for the…

Posted by Kristy Dubinsky on Monday, September 27, 2021

The Post-Gazette article continued:

The dozen brothers and sisters of Corpsman Soviak asked to borrow his original portrait for his viewing and funeral service on Sept. 12 and 13 near Sandusky, Ohio. Even though she was swamped getting ready for the Michigan exhibit, Ms. Dubinsky drove 1½ hours and back to meet the family halfway to lend it to them.

On Sept. 21, the family of Marine Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover of Salt Lake City, Utah, requested that Ms. Dubinsky overnight a print of his portrait for his burial ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery that Friday, which she did. Grand Rapids’ Matt Imm cried when he saw, in person, the portrait of his Rancho Cucamonga [Calif.] High School best friend, Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola.

After the ArtPrize show concludes, Dubinsky planned to keep the original portraits together to share at later exhibits. However, she will soon present each family with a hand-painted giclée replica of their hero.

“A giclée is considered the world’s best technique for reproducing original art,” she explained.

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