Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, is by all accounts the man of the hour. While facing threats to his safety from rightwing elements, he is also being showered with praise and admiration, sometimes uncomfortably, as he became the most recognized voice in the United States on the coronavirus pandemic.
On social media, Fauci is being celebrated with thousands of artistic tributes, from admiring portraits and cartoons to tattoos, sock puppets, and saint icons bearing his image.
One of the most intricate tributes to Fauci belongs to Andy Andersen, an illustrator based outside of Los Angeles. His illustration depicts the famed doctor as the late-medieval Saint Pantaleon the healer. “Saint Fauci” holds a box of medicine, flanked by angels of death and spikey coronaviruses.
“I based it on some of the classic saint iconography that exists,” Andersen explained to Hyperallergic in an email. “The pose, the composition, the elements all reference those iconic images, but updated with references to the virus.”
“To me, Fauci is the calming, reassuring voice during this confusing and unpredictable time,” Andersen wrote. “He reminds me of a grandfather who assures you that everything will be ok. It will be hard, it will most likely suck, and sh#!t will happen, but in the end, everything will be ok. The silver lining is that humanity has such a competent, intellectual powerhouse on its side.”
Several other fans also elevated Fauci to saintdom. One of them created a “Saint Fauci” votive candle with the caption: “Not all heroes wear capes! ????”
One of the most famous public images of Fauci captures him facepalming as President Trump was making a joke about the “Deep State Department” during a coronavirus briefing at the White House. For many Americans, the image highlighted Fauci as a voice of reason in contrast with Trump’s political ramblings. But for others, it made him an enemy.
Brad Albright, an artist and an illustrator based in Texas, decided to perpetuate Fauci’s facepalm with a sticker. “Somebody get this man some (more) medals, honors and awards!!! Seriously. He’s a saint,” he wrote in the caption.
In addition, there are myriad admiring portraits of Fauci online, from pencil sketches to paintings and GIFs. One such artwork, titled “The Explainer in Chief,” captures Fauci explaining the disease to the press cameras. The artist, Phil Bateman, writes in the caption: “Who else but Anthony Fauci could tell you terrifying things and yet whose terrifying explanations made you feel better because you believed only him among all the voices[?]”
— DrAlfredoTorres (@DrAlfredoTorre1) April 8, 2020
How does this intense level of attention affect Fauci himself? When asked in an interview with CBS’s Gayle King if he feels personal pressure he calmly answered, “It’s my job. This is the life I’ve chosen and I’m doing it.”