Eric Cousineau is commercial and contemporary photography. He holds a degree in photography from Oakland Community College and received a BFA from the College of Santa Fe in 2003. Cousineau studied with documentary and art photographers David Scheinbaum, Steve Fitch, Nancy Sutor, and Tony O’Brien. He was born in Iowa City, raised in Flushing Michigan, and currently resides in Santa Fe, NM. Read Video Transcription
As COVID-19 restrictions pushed many of our daily routines into remote work from home, or worse into unemployment, some workers were deemed “essential.” Among them, healthcare professionals, grocery store and postal service workers, and many other essential personnel remained out in the world while the rest of us shelter in place. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, essential workers include those whose jobs are critical to maintaining the infrastructure of the country. These essential people are still out in the world, putting themselves at risk of contracting the coronavirus for the sake of social stability. Strangely enough, the majority of those deemed essential are also representative of low-income positions that rarely offer health benefits despite the increased risks of working in public spaces in the age of COVID-19.
Eric Cousineau, a photographer, and essential worker employed by Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe, NM, found himself among the at-risk community of workers keeping our food supply functional. CENTER approached Cousineau in March about collaborating on a photo-project documenting and honoring the essential workforce he is part of. CENTER’s Curator of Public Engagement, Matthew Contos, provided project guidance and support, working towards creating a portrait exhibition in town.
Cousineau pressed on making images of his postman, mechanic, gas station clerks, teachers, friends, and anyone he encountered who agreed to pose for a portrait. Over the last several months Cousineau built a body of work and eventually gained access to the COVID-19 unit in Saint Vincent Hospital, in Santa Fe, NM.
Next up, Cousineau will be documenting the health workers. We are honored to share his collection of essential worker portraits to recognize those who are risking exposure to keep our groceries stocked, our internet running, our packages delivered, and our health clinics open.
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