Italian artist and Z-Burger owner create a statue honoring health care workers

“Hero Monument” follows the two around as they thank frontline workers with burgers

Italian artist and Z-Burger owner create a statue honoring health care workers
Sergio Furnari (Left) and Peter Tabibian (Right) in front of the “Hero Monument.”

Since the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, health care workers have been regarded as heroes more than ever. 

To bring awareness and thank health care workers, Sergio Furnari, a New York City-based Italian artist, built a statue in collaboration with Peter Tabibian, the owner of Z-Burger - a Tenleytown classic for American University students. 

The statue, built by Furnari, is a life-size health care worker on his knees with his arms up in the air. The statue has been is placed outside of Z-Burger in Tenleytown and has traveled with Furnari and Tabibian as they thanked health care workers in person.

Furnari is also known for another statue that lives on his truck that he drives around the Tenleytown area. The statue, called “Lunchtime on a Skyscraper,” depicts “eleven workers eating lunch on a beam during the construction of Rockefeller Center in 1932,” according to Furnari’s website. It was this truck that led to this pandemic collaboration with Furnari and Tabibian.

Furnari and Tabibian said they met 10-15 years ago in New York City where Tabibian said “he fell in love with the iron worker statue Sergio made.” When Tabibian opened the first Z-Burger in 2008, he called Sergio to “bring his truck for promotions.”

Once the pandemic reached D.C., Tabibian said he wanted to spread gratitude and joy to health care workers.

On numerous occasions, Furnari and Tabibian loaded the health care worker statue in Furnari’s “ironworker truck” and took the statue along with burgers to feed and thank health care workers in D.C. They visited Sibley Memorial Hospital, George Washington University Hospital and many other places to hand out burgers to thank frontline workers.

Tabibian said Furnari “had the idea of taking burgers to [health care workers] and thank them in person, shake their hands and let them know that what they are doing is very brave.”

Furnari said that the statue has two names, “The Hero Monument” and “The COVID-19 Monument.”

Furnari said that although this statue has spiritual significance, he does “not want this to be connected to any religion.” 

“Human beings, in general, try to solve the world’s problems, but they always tend to forget there is a God up there,” Furnari said. “When you put your palms up to the sky, your hand can become antennas in a way.”

Furnari and Tabibian said they are both inspired by and grateful for health care workers treating coronavirus patients. 

“Every day we are running away from people with COVID[-19], but these health care workers are close to the patients every day — they are heroes,” Tabibian said.

amelsheimer@theeagleonline.com

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle