Austin photographer's giant portraits honor female essential workers

Austin photographer Sarah Wilson is honoring women who are essential workers by creating giant portraits of them and posting each one throughout the city. The portraits are meant to highlight those who've risked their lives to keep the community safe and healthy during the pandemic.

The 20-foot-tall wheatpaste photographs can be found scattered around the city. Wilson says, "It's several large pieces of paper that are puzzle pieces and put together on the wall and then adhered with basically wallpaper paste." 

"I wanted the enormity of these images to reflect the respect that I have for the work that these women are doing to help our community stay safe and strong," Wilson adds.


Each one of the portraits is of a real woman working as an essential worker in Austin

Wilson says she got the idea to honor the women at the very beginning of the pandemic. "I was thinking about all the other people, all of the other women who were deemed essential workers, and just the amount of risk that they were taking on a daily basis," Wilson says.

One of the workers featured is Keyanna who works for Community Care and is an Austin Community College nursing student. Keyanna says that it's an honor to be able to do something that she loves to do and have it put out there for people to see.


Wilson says she's photographed 15 essential women workers from healthcare employees to teachers and even an embalmer. She says she plans to create large scaled portraits of all the women she's photographed and has done eight so far.

"Sometimes, these women are in jobs that are kind of overlooked. And I just wanted them to stand out so the public could see them in their everyday lives," Wilson says. "I'm hoping that these large-scale portraits can help people remember that and keep them in their thoughts."