San Francisco community groups deliver masks to the Bayanihan Community Center. (Photo courtesy San Francisco Department of Emergency Management)

A vibrant collection of 20,000 masks designed by eight Bay Area artists will be distributed to the community as part of a public education campaign, city officials said Friday.

The mask project, funded by San Francisco’s COVID Command Center, tasked artists with creating designs reflecting their art and the spirit of their cultural community.

Artist Cheryl Derricotte described the project as “our 21st century Works Progress Administration (WPA)” and said she was delighted to create a mask that would resonate with the city’s Black community.

“Wearable art, during the time of COVID-19, is next-level public art,” Derricotte said.

The virus has taken a devastating toll on Filipino American nurses, said artist Kimberley Acebo Arteche, who comes from a family and community of healthcare workers, nurses, and doctors.

The project helps to honor the spirit of “bayanihan”, or communal unity and working together to achieve a common, greater goal, and “all of the healthcare workers that continue to fight for our health and safety,” Arteche said.

The masks are being distributed in communities most impacted by the pandemic, in partnership with community nonprofits, cultural district offices, senior sites, testing and vaccination sites, food distribution hubs, and shelters throughout San Francisco.

The initiative is part of San Francisco’s “Mask On, Stay Strong” campaign to promote mask-wearing as essential to combatting the spread of COVID-19 and safely reopening the city for business.

Participating artists include Kimberley Acebo Arteche, Cheryl Derricotte, Nancy Hom, Crystal Liu, Lydia Ortiz, Ron Moultrie Saunders, Kim Shuck and Betty Trujillo. They were selected from community stakeholder nominations in late 2020.