Thursday, 09 April 2020 11:35

RichmondCC art instructor makes masks to help in battle against COVID-19

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Richmond Community College art instructor Andrew Prieto sews together a mask that can be worn to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. He and his wife made over 100 masks and are donating them to FirstHealth of the Carolinas. Richmond Community College art instructor Andrew Prieto sews together a mask that can be worn to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. He and his wife made over 100 masks and are donating them to FirstHealth of the Carolinas. RichmondCC

HAMLET — Richmond Community College art instructor Andrew Prieto and his wife, Rachel, have been using their time sequestered at home to use their talents to help others. The Prietos have made more than 100 masks to help protect people from the spread of the coronavirus.


Prieto got the idea after talking to his sister who is a director of nurses at a hospital in California, where there’s a huge shortage of masks. 

“I’ve been sewing since I was 5 years old, so it’s wonderful to have a practical application for this skill and to have the knowledge to create something and contribute at a time like this,” said Prieto, who has been teaching art at RichmondCC for four years. “Rarely do artists have the opportunity to actually make a direct, measurable impact. Usually it’s speculative at best. People look at an art piece and either they like it or don’t, get a message from it or not. However, creating these masks is having a direct effect on helping people.”

The Prietos donated the masks to FirstHealth of the Carolinas, where they’ll be sterilized and packaged by sterile processing and distributed to employees who would like the customized masks.

“We’ve all heard the saying that even in the worst of situations, there is good to be found. That rang especially true this week as we have been overwhelmed by the support of our community and their desire to help safeguard our employees who are dealing with COVID-19,” said Mickey W. Foster, CEO FirstHealth of the Carolinas, in an email to employees.

Prieto researched different patterns and found one that originates from South Korea. Some of the fabric used for the masks has come from a large collection of fabric he inherited from his mother.

“I have a strong background in textiles and sewing, and my wife knows how to sew, too,” he said. “Between the two of us, we already had a huge fabrication collection, but then this past year when my mother passed away, we inherited all of her fabric.”

Prieto and his wife, who is also an adjunct instructor for the Fine Arts program at RichmondCC, are continuing to make the masks and hope they can be distributed within Richmond County.

Prieto is the program coordinator for the Fine Arts-Visual Arts program at RichmondCC. For more information about the art program, contact Prieto at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 910-410-1760. Visit www.richmondcc.edu.