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Vote for your choice for the People's Choice Award. Click on the stars below each artwork, and your vote will automatically be counted. You can vote on as many artworks as you’d like. Voting closes August 15, 2021.

This juried invitational celebrates The Phillips Collection’s 100th anniversary in 2021, building on the commitment of founder Duncan Phillips to presenting, acquiring, and promoting the work of artists of the greater DC region. Featuring 64 artists, Inside Outside, Upside Down makes vivid the turmoil, strength, and resiliency of the human spirit in the face of the past year’s global COVID-19 pandemic and social upheaval.

 

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CATHY ABRAMSON
Waiting for Takeout (To-Go)
Oil on canvas

24 x 36 in.
Courtesy of the Artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

The pandemic year has been a time of routine, of repetition, of sameness. The street scene could have occurred any day during the past year, but this particular moment happened last fall in Mount Pleasant, near the site of the old Heller’s Bakery. Three people are waiting, socially distanced, masks on, phones in hand. They are also awaiting the next wave, waiting for the vaccine, waiting for Godot, waiting for To-Go. And yet, there is a sense of emerging, from apartments, from between parked cars, and from solitary life. The occasion warrants a sassy look, ripped jeans, and lunch from the hottest cafe. Maybe there is an end to this endless year.

SIMONE AGOUSSOYE
Beauty Mark
Acrylic and oil paint on canvas
48 x 36 in.
Courtesy of the Artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

Beauty Mark is a painting of my younger sister, a 16-year-old girl living inside outside, upside down.

This work speaks to the identity and the presence of young Black girls living during one of the most difficult and challenging times in their life and in history. A Global Pandemic. COVID-19. Being a Woman in America. Being a Black Woman in America. Black Lives Matter. These combined social elements leave one wondering what the future holds. Just like this one Black girl in this dark, seemingly scary world, she can, still, and will have a powerful impact on the world. Despite all of these disturbing circumstances and all of the ugliness we have seen in 2020, beauty still exists—even if it is as small as this Beauty Mark.

The sense of darkness that the year 2020 brought is represented in this painting by the black acrylic paint used as the background. It was also important to depict the texture and the different layers that this young lady is made up of by the heavy application of oil paint for her hair and clothing.

MAREMI ANDREOZZI
The Suffragists
Acrylic on canvas

18 x 24 in.
Courtesy of Adah Rose Gallery

ARTIST STATEMENT

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902), Lucretia Mott (1793–1880), and Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906) need little introduction as leaders of the women’s rights movement. Stanton’s “Declaration of Sentiments” presented at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention launched the national women’s suffrage movement. Mott was one of the main organizers of the Seneca Fall Convention. Anthony was a brilliant political strategist and orator who worked tirelessly to promote equal pay for equal work, women’s education, the rights of working women, and fair divorce laws. All three died before women received the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

The Suffragists is dedicated to the unflagging efforts of countless suffragists of the past and those who work to ensure equitable voting today. The voice of women in the electorate is as important today as it was during the time of the suffragists. Challenges to equitable access, confidence in voting accuracy, and efficiency in the democratic process continue to be exploited issues. Voting is a civic engagement that still requires constant attention and passionate participation.

CAROL ANTEZANA
Las Gringas
Digital photographic print
20 x 16 in.
Courtesy of artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

Las Gringas is a photographic self-portrait analyzing the balance between being both Bolivian and a first-generation American amid political turmoil and uprisings in both countries. Disagreements about politics have been a specter for many families and the differences are ones of morality, core values, and character, creating tension and division. I was always taunted by my family for being “una gringa” because I cannot speak Spanish perfectly, yet there was no importance in keeping our Indigenous language, Quechua, alive. As a child of immigrant parents, the act of balancing, adopting, and assimilating cultures can be daunting; there are deeply rooted racial double standards in both countries. Through redefining my identity, I am striving to decolonize my mind—my attempt at breaking the intergenerational trauma in my family.

DESMOND BEACH
#SayTheirNames 2
Fabric and paper
25 x 21-1/2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

The African storytelling tradition is a thread that runs through my work. My highest goal is to turn the terrible into the beautiful. I am inspired by images of Black people during the Middle Passage, in the Jim Crow South, and in mass media. The police slaying of unarmed Black people has evoked anti-racism protests throughout the United States and abroad. Despite experiencing trauma due to implicit bias and murder, African American communities find ways to celebrate, mourn, and resist. The #SayTheirNames project sees the artist as an activist, preacher, healer, and prophet, allowing Black people to fully embody their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and images as artwork. The body of work symbolizes one’s sense of duality—Black, American; two thoughts, two souls, two feelings, unresolved strivings, and contradictory beliefs in one’s dark skin. In #SayTheirNames 2, the work combines a historical portrait of an enslaved Black man named Jack in the foreground and protest images from demonstrations—from 1968 and Black Lives Matter— collaged on fabric.

JULIA BLOOM
February 4, 2021
Compressed charcoal on manual typewriter text on paper,
12 x 9 in.
Courtesy of the artist and Addison/Ripley Fine Art

ARTIST STATEMENT

The pandemic and demands for social justice exploded in the spring and summer of 2020 and greatly influenced my life and work. While sheltering in place, I retreated into the nostalgia of my youth and began typing letters using a vintage Royal Quiet Deluxe manual typewriter. In time, I incorporated the typewritten pages into my art practice. Typing repeated phrases about coronavirus, social distancing, social justice, and human interaction led me to type more personal stream of consciousness diary entries—all the disruptive emotions I was feeling in the present tense, yet partially assuaged by a soundtrack of clacking keys from a much more soothing, bygone era.

Using compressed charcoal, I began to draw bold shapes on my typewritten pages that partially redacted my texts. These charcoal shapes and stains are like protective clouds that block and screen some of my most intense, intimate thoughts and feelings. This work highlights a powerful employment of nostalgic machinery as a vehicle for my current art practice.

MICHAEL BOOKER
The Dreamer That Thought
Fineliner pen, color pencil, and watercolor on paper and Yupo
40 x 30 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

Constant confinement and solitude because of the pandemic has resulted in an imbalance of emotional stability in an otherwise safe place: home. Over the last 12 months, a lack of human interaction, which we take for granted, combined with unjust racial inequality and police brutality, highlighted on a national level, has disrupted the status quo—for better and for worse. With so many names being turned into hashtags and symbols for change, I feel anger toward myself for not feeling more outraged. The prevalence of violence and injustice has had a numbing effect over time. Working on these fineliner pen drawings became a form of therapy, a coping mechanism, and a way to add my voice in protest. They provide an opportunity to search for a nuanced visual reflection of the contemplative and vulnerable states that ebb and flow each day. This inner turmoil is a struggle felt by not only me, but others who are looking for ways to cope but do not know how.

KIMBERLY BRAMMER
Healing Thyself through Connection
Pastel and charcoal
18 x 24 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

The pandemic hit. I immediately lost my job. I lost my income as well as the caregiver for my children, leaving my husband and me scrambling to make sense of everything. Being a therapist, I created a private practice and began supporting individuals in a virtual therapy room. I, however, was going through all the emotions that my clients were going through.

My most authentic connection was unexpected; it was my personal virtual therapy room. This drawing is the image that I see whenever I am the client in my own therapy. Jennifer, my therapist, is pictured in the center of the artwork. I chose to show myself without a picture since looking at my image was a distraction from looking inward in my therapeutic work. The journey of looking inward has not been easy. It’s heavy lifting to be honest and vulnerable with another. When the world was turned upside down, I was forced to look inward for hope, joy, love, and connection. This portrait shows the deep connection that I, ultimately, have with myself through the other.

NIKKI BRUGNOLI
RISE
Silkscreen, acrylic ink, graphite, acrylic gel medium on Mylar
47 x 65 x 2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

RISE was born out of an experimental series I started in August 2020. The reality of the pandemic has meant a reorientation of HOME— home as both living and working space; spending much more time at home; or losing the ease of “traveling back home” to see my family of origin/extended family in Pittsburgh. RISE aims to be a physical embodiment of reach, longing, expansion, and, in many ways, the unattainable. The repeated silkscreen image in RISE was taken from a specific landscape connected to my home that has my son embedded in it. He stands alone in the garden we created in March 2020. When the photo was taken, it was late summer, the garden bursting with life and wild with weeds and mosquitoes. My son gazes up at the sky.

This fleeting moment captures a kind of isolation, mystery, and independence. It nods to the resilience so many of us discovered during this uncertain and challenging time.

FLORENCIO CAMPELLO
Suddenly, She Discovered Her Identity (Many of Them)
Charcoal drawing with embedded electronic component which rotates the faces of women from
around the work who submitted their image for this project
12 x 12 in.
Courtesy of Alida Anderson Art Projects


ARTIST STATEMENT

Over the last few decades, I have used my artwork to tell stories, nearly always influenced by the events, people, and history around me.

The year 2020 was a never-ending river of information, with multiple tributaries which will feed visual stories for centuries to come. In 2020 I was fascinated by how people worldwide expanded their identities, genders, and ancestries—a tapestry of sources ranging from DNA discoveries to the nearly instant release and availability of information. Marry that interest with a furious rekindling of political differences and ancient rancors, as well as the beginning of full acceptance in some societies of the right of people to assert their gender identification, and artists have a generational opportunity to tell a story for the future to inhale. The person in my piece could be the Eve from Genesis, as she struggles, or perhaps enjoys, searching for her identity—only to discover, as we all eventually do, that we have many identities.

CARLOS CARMONAMEDINA
Food Bank Lines at Cardozo High School
Digital illustration, giclée print
10 x 16 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

During my time living and working in Washington, DC, I have come to love the rich diversity of people, past and present, and the quotidian dramas through which they shape their neighborhoods and the collective urban character. My art seeks to document that human presence in a way that is funny and compelling. My creative approach is a product of intensive, on-site research, talking to people and familiarizing myself with the space. Meandering bike rides, intimate conversations, and simple but deliberate observation are all ways to discover the community’s treasures.

The food bank at Cardozo High School, perched proudly on a hill in fast-gentrifying Columbia Heights, offers a panorama of the Howard University Founders Library, where Vice President Kamala Harris studied; the Washington Monument, our symbol of civilizational grandeur; the Trump International Hotel; and the Capitol, where during the greatest crisis of the new century, the people’s legislators rancorously approved $600 stimulus checks.

SANDRA CHEN WEINSTEIN
Black Lives Matter
Archival pigment print
16 x 16 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

This year has seen a reshaping and refocusing of the civil rights movement in the United States. The many tragic and unfortunate events propelled by excess force from police toward people of color and resulting in the deaths of African Americans were the most recent catalyst. It has been over 150 years since slavery ended in the United States. Since then, there have been many people leading movements and overcoming adversities to continue the fight against racism. While there has been much progress in the way of civil rights, equal opportunity, and reduced discrimination, it is easy to forget the individuals who broke out of societal norms and the challenges they faced. This portrait of a young boy gazing in silence with an American flag background echoes our past to the present. I would like to use this image to encourage people and communities to continue an open dialogue.

PETER CIZMADIA
Whistlegiver/Whistleblower
Spray paint on wood panel, 2 panels, each
30 x 54 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

I invite the viewer to consider what they would do when offered the choice to make a tremendous sacrifice to benefit humanity at large. Would it be enough to be remembered, and honored?

Whistlegiver/Whistleblower is a tribute to the Wuhan doctors Ai Fen (left) and Li Wenliang (right). These doctors risked professional sanction and their own lives as part of the first response to the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to raise the alarm to the global threat. Both faced severe professional consequences, with Dr. Li losing his life.

My process of stencil painting becomes an extended meditation on my subject matter. Long hours of studying facial features and tracing these fine details with pens, followed by intricate knife work, create a sense of responsibility to build a faithful representation. The raw and accessible nature of spray paint and stencil is intended to evoke the rapid and improvisational nature of the early response to COVID-19, composed by colors alluding to the balance between rage and action.

WESLEY CLARK
The Feeling
Plywood, lumber, steel, screws, nails, bolts, and spray paint
24-1/2 x 27 x 7 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

The Feeling is part of a small series of journal-like works borne of thoughts and discussions around the COVID-19 pandemic, death, the continued injustices faced by Black Americans, and the country’s leadership throughout 2020. This work was ruggedly built as a quick but sturdily reinforced work surface used in the studio for eight years before its disassembly. Pieces of rusted steel are attached, furthering the industrial history of the piece while flanking a cross made from protruding rusted screws, bolts, nails, and other metal fasteners.

The Feeling describes the slow, inward burning sensation that came in waves after hearing and witnessing multiple videos of injustice (Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Dion Johnson, and more) and innocent verdicts for murderous acts. The cross in the center, akin to the American Red Cross logo, references the need for and giving of aid—yet finding neither from governing bodies. This cross takes its cues from the Congolese power figure nkisi nkondi, letting our solace be found in the spiritual forces avenging our wronged and fallen.

DOMINICK COCOZZA
COVID-19 Self Portrait
Charcoal on paper
40 x 30 in.
Courtesy of Dcocozza Studios (Arlington, VA)

ARTIST STATEMENT

As a high school senior graduating during the COVID-19 pandemic, my life was quickly turned upside down by constant disappointment. It was tough accepting the reality that I would miss many milestones, such as prom, in-person graduation, senior art exhibition, and final swim team competition season. As both a minority leader and emerging practicing artist, I use my strong fine arts proficiency to uplift, inspire, and engage with my local and larger global community.

My large charcoal self-portrait reflects the sense of longing that I felt at a pumpkin patch amid the pandemic in October. It represents my determination to not allow a pandemic from disrupting fall festivities that mean so much to me. With my safety mask on and pumpkin in hand, I stare into the eyes of the viewer asking an important question: What can you do to celebrate safely during these incredibly difficult times? My work explores finding normality in the abnormal and centers around engaging my community to participate in safe recreational activities.

ROBIN CROFT
Reclining Figure (Triptych)
Ink pens and graphite on letterhead, 3-sheet triptych
8-1/2 x 33 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

With the pandemic and Black Lives Matter racial unrest, fueled by a kakistocratic president, anxious thoughts produced manic drawings. The plague, rats, blood, bullet holes, and fire populated the scenery. Reclining Figure is a triptych of three sheets of unused letterhead imprinted with “Whippoorwill Hollow Farm,” a farm owned by friends. A working vacation haven each year, the imprint represents the joy of four friends renovating an old farmhouse. The typographic metaphor of “Whippoorwill Hollow Farm” appears three times in the drawing, increasingly darkened.

The “pocket note” drawing series originated from my lifelong habit of carrying paper and a pen or pencil in my pocket. An artist’s reminders, lists, tasks, and sketches. Upon beginning a new career in building maintenance after being terminated from 23 years in commercial art, pocket notes became increasingly tied to daily routine. At some point, worn pages were pushed over the edge, accepted as prosaic, journalistic drawings. They were considered art.

SORA DEVORE
Movie Night
Archival pigment print
7-1/2 x 10 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

During the pandemic, I have learned that I can live without many things. The greatest challenge has been maintaining safe relationships with family and friends that sustain our mental health. For years, my sister and I have gathered weekly to lavish our father with forbidden ice cream sundaes and loud action movies. Our 93-year-old father always lived a vibrant life of volunteer work, social events, errands, and so on. Abruptly, COVID-19 reduced his life to a few doctor’s appointments and vet visits, with little need for cognitive functioning. That was not okay. Courtesy of a projector, space heaters, a lot of layers, and hats with ear flaps, movie nights and ice cream sundaes commenced in my sister’s garage. Our spirits soared.

SARAH DOLAN
Alone and Not. All at Once
Color pencil drawing collaged onto toddler writing on paper
14 x 11 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

In this piece, I depict myself looking out of a house made from my daughter’s colorful magnetic tiles. My daughter uses these to build houses for her toys to play in. All day I play with my daughter, which is not so different to what life was like before the pandemic, except now we cannot leave. There are not as many playdates, there are no playgrounds full of children that she can play with, there are no more story times at the library, and there is no preschool. With fewer options for safe childcare, mothers have found their roles at home magnified throughout the pandemic. Many mothers are burned-out after a year of living this way.

Even though I am socially distanced from most of my peers, I am never physically alone. There is always the sound of my child saying “Mama” somewhere near me. It is the odd feeling of being alone and not. All at once.

MIKE DOWLEY
November, 2020
Pastel/crayon on paper
14 x 11 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

November, 2020 is part of a series of sketchbook drawings that I have continued through the pandemic. As a painter and teacher, I was finding it difficult to focus on larger, more complex pieces, so the sketchbook became a way of recording ideas quickly and easily during this stressful time. This drawing developed out of the particularly intense emotions I felt during the month of November when the country was dealing with both rising COVID-19 infections and increased tension and unrest from the presidential election. I wanted to capture this uncertain and ominous moment.

Working from memory/imagination, I drew a vast, dark cavern with just a small amount of light in the distance. This is how this moment felt for me. While there was a small amount of light (or hope), it was still off in the distance, and held uncertainties of its own.

NEKISHA DURRETT
Eleanor Bumpurs Killed by police on Oct. 29, 1984 | Age, 66
Magnolia leaves, poplar, velvet, acrylic, LED lighting
19-1/4 x 19-1/4 x 5 inches
Courtesy of the artist

NEKISHA DURRETT
India Kager Killed by police on September 5, 2015 | Age 27
Magnolia leaves, poplar, velvet, acrylic, LED lighting
19-1/4 x 19-1/4 x 5 inches
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

Golden brown and tough as leather on one side, velvety soft on the other, fallen magnolia leaves possess an often uncelebrated radiance and resilience. For many, the magnolia flower is the showstopper. However, it is the magnolia leaf that, long after the flower’s death, withstands rain, wind, and the lawn mower. Even after death, the leaf refuses to be erased and forgotten.

During the spring and summer of 2020, I collected fallen leaves from a towering magnolia tree in Rock Creek Cemetery. Experiencing the impacts of two pandemics at once—COVID-19 and continued police brutality against Black bodies—I used the cemetery as a space for processing my anxiety and grief. Inspired by the #SayHerName movement, I began to perforate the names of dozens of Black women murdered by law enforcement into the surfaces of the leaves.

TAE EDELL
Heavens Witnessed
Painted brass and enamel
1.5 in. diameter, 3 mm thick
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

The Heavens Witnessed challenge coin originated from outrage felt over the continued absence of justice for Breonna Taylor. Challenge coins are medallions given to members of law enforcement and emergency medical services to signify membership, strengthen solidarity, and honor significant events. The coin’s reverse side bears the celestial map over Louisville, KY, at the time of Breonna Taylor’s death, a reminder that the heavens witnessed Taylor’s death and that the truth endures well beyond the Louisville city limits.

The obverse side features the scales of justice with the Hanged Man tarot symbol as the scales’ pillar, which appears when one’s approach to life has reached its limits. “8:46” refers to the initially reported amount of time during which a police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck, resulting in his death. Like Floyd, Taylor’s fatal shooting was the result of law enforcement’s unchecked use of excessive violence on the Black community. The challenge coin demands that the Louisville Metro Police Department be held responsible. We demand justice for Breonna Taylor.

BRIA EDWARDS
Observe
Oil on canvas
48 x 36 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

I do not tell my models what to wear or how to pose. Their natural stature conveys a sense of empowerment, confidence, and pride in their African American culture. In a world where there is so much negativity surrounding the Black community, my aim is to change the narrative and be a positive influence. I want the true essence of who we are to be reflected in my work.

KATE FLEMING
T.P. no. 3
Oil on paper
5-1/2 x 5-1/2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

I am a painter and a printmaker. When the pandemic hit in 2020, I was in the middle of a yearlong trip to make paintings in all 50 states. While on the road, I made small oil paintings on paper, painted in one sitting, from life. I wanted to capture the American landscape while setting aside nostalgia, preconceptions, and beauty. I made dozens of paintings of our national aesthetic: sprawl.

Returning home and cutting my travels short, I wanted to continue to capture something essential and plain about the American experience—and I wanted to find a little humor in all the darkness. The paintings I made in the past year—over 100 of them—are lighthearted, teasing, and a little melancholy. I painted rolls and rolls of toilet paper (all we could talk about from March to May), carelessly knocked-over lawn chairs, dropped ice cream cones, and spilled glasses of milk. An image need not be serious to convey meaning.

CHAWKY FRENN
Hypnagogia
Oil on canvas
48 x 36 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

As a Lebanese immigrant fleeing a war-torn country in 1981, I saw the United States as a land of opportunity, a beacon for democracy, and the pinnacle of human rights. Through years of living and observing our American ideals and politics, however, I have learned that even in the “Land of the Free,” basic human rights were always fought for, never given by the ruling powers.

Hypnagogia, a transitional state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep, with vivid sensations of floating, falling, and impending threat, alarmingly reflects the political, economic, religious, and moral predicaments that shamelessly emerged in 2020. The painting questions the identity as well as the core principles and values the United States upholds. With a history rooted in structural racism, momentous struggles and critical resistance endeavor to ensure the rights of Native Americans, African Americans, people of color, women, LGBTQ, veterans, immigrants, prisoners, and refugees.

AMELIA HANKIN
Nest on Wreath
Charcoal, carbon pencil, and graphite on archival paper
20 x 25-1/4 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

The series of drawings is a nod to the poem “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson. It is a poem that, throughout the years, I have read many times. But this particular year, its message and metaphor felt more raw, weighted, and powerful. The human capacity for hope, depicted in the poem, inspired me to create drawings about renewal—captured in the imagery of nests. The bird is absent, but its work is done. The nests represent the human need for hope, and the calm, quiet resilience of the human soul.

Overall, my work uses familiar objects that have been assigned meaning, emotional weight, and purpose: folded paper that predicts the future, feathers that catch our dreams, nests that represent hope and renewal, and repeated butterfly wings that represent change.

By the impositions of context and tradition, these images form connections with birth, regeneration, and death. Brought together, they acknowledge the microcosmic forces outside of our authority, which impact our lives in small but tangible ways.

MICHAEL HANTMAN
Upside Down
Graphite, digital, acrylic, and newspaper collage
20 x 15 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

When COVID-19 became a threat to us all and lockdown occurred, I was in shock. It created a palatable fear, an invisible enemy. My way of survival was to channel these emotions into creative endeavors. Sheltering in place has provided me with extra time to experiment and to turn past ideas into something real. For me, art-making has become a therapeutic process. It serves as a glimmer of hope during a time of doubt.

LESLIE HOLT
Bipolar Stain (without tenderness we are in hell)
Embroidery and acrylic on raw canvas
36 x 36 in.
Courtesy of the artist


ARTIST STATEMENT

During her last psychiatric hospitalization before she died, my mother asked me to bring her volume D of her World Book encyclopedia set. She wanted to study more about the ducks she fed daily during her morning smoke in the courtyard of her assisted living facility.

She often used the inside covers of books to quickly jot down notes. She filled the title page of the encyclopedia with clusters of notes including phone numbers, lists of medications, diagnoses, doctors’ names, and test results. Her handwriting was normally a point of pride—pristine and elegant. But these words are scribbled and sometimes illegible, powerful evidence of her earnest struggle to make sense of things through the fog of sedation and paranoia.

I incorporated some of these notes in this piece. In addition, I stitched a message on the back of the canvas—a phrase from a poem by Adrienne Rich: “without tenderness we are in hell.” On the front of the canvas, this message is illegible. It was a horrible year, but this inward dive was very fruitful. It helped me look at hard things because I had space and quiet, and everyone else was grieving, too.

MICHAEL JANIS
How We Take Care of Each Other
Glass, glass powder imagery, varies
60 x 48 in. 
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

What epitomizes the height of this pandemic? Emptiness. It’s embodied in the unusual quiet in normally noisy, bustling neighborhoods. Silence—not merely the absence of noise, but also the inescapable presence of judgment, longing, and paranoia.

Some of the glass circular panels touch on subjects of how the virus is transmitted, and on how COVID-19 cases are heavily concentrated in the African American population. The imagery in the panels is created by manipulating and fusing finely crushed glass powder, or frit—the sgraffito technique.

Social isolation may be the best tool to keep the virus under control, but this clashes directly with our need for social connections, which help us resolve anger and rage while we are at the mercy of injustice and uncertainty. In these conflicts, we need to remind ourselves that rants and accusations will not move us forward; compassion, empathy, and recognition that we are all in this horrible situation together will inspire us.

JANE KELL
Road to Nowhere
Oil paint and pastel on canvas
30 x 30 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

I feel this painting captures something of the weird, overwrought atmosphere of the first few weeks of COVID-19. It was painted in a rather dark, makeshift corner of my bedroom during snatched moments in March 2020. Tensions were running high, and I was finding it frustrating not being able to work. I found myself drawn to a stash of old reference photographs taken by my late father. He had taped two photographs of this view together to create one image and there was something appealing about the heavy sky and the mysterious road disappearing into the distance.

When I painted the picture, I felt there was a desolate and haunted feeling that captured how I, and perhaps others, were feeling at the time. There was so much fear and uncertainty about the future. In the painting, there is a brooding sky and a sense of foreboding. I had no idea where the road depicted was, or would end up; it really was a “road to nowhere.”

JEAN JINHO KIM
Standing Tall
Aluminum tubing, wooden probes with base
72 x 44 x 48 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

In Standing Tall, five pieces stand alone, but together they create a complete work. During the pandemic, many of us are isolated, but making an effort to sustain our relationships is more important now than ever. Finding ways to support one another in new and creative ways can be challenging, but is essential for our well-being and growth. The new normal that we are looking forward to may not be the same as before the pandemic, but we are hopeful for days where COVID-19 does not dominate the news, gathering with friends and family is not considered high-risk behavior, and planning for the future seems possible again. Standing Tall aspires to stand together as a community even though we may be apart physically.

KATHERINE KNIGHT
Tech Fatigue
Pencil, gouache, and collage on paper
24 x 18 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

I make self-portraits to better understand the many roles I play in my life: daughter, friend, wife, mother, sister-in-law, professor, colleague, and advocate. When the pandemic hit, I suddenly became my household’s sole wage earner. This drawing represents the love-hate relationship I developed with my devices as the social, professional, and educational lives of me and my family were reduced to their tiny screens: grateful for the opportunity to connect with loved ones and keep working safely from home, afraid for my students and community members who were unable to do the same, frustrated by our isolation, bored by the monotony, worried as my son gradually disengaged from his school and friends, grieving over the headlines, powerless to do anything about any of it, and comforted, ultimately, by humor and a few hours spent in the studio.

ARA KOH
Inquiry of Breathing
Ceramic (stoneware)
23 x 45 x 12 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

I speak Korean, English, and clay. My studio practice is a form of translation. Working with clay is a vehicle for memory, honesty, and reflection. I translate the invisible and the amorphous into something visible and solid. A balance between polarities: light and heavy, dense and loose, ephemeral and concrete. There is room for awe and even for childhood trauma, fading or relived. My sculpture encapsulates the dialogue of internal memories and external landscapes. Making is reliving fading traumatic memory as a landscape painting.

Questioning how architecture and landscape hold humanity, I think about my body contained in spaces, my body as a container, and the space being contained in the larger body of humanity. That experience questions the self in relationship with space. This body of work claims my position of authority—a space that is my own space. It asks about my identity as an artist, a daughter, and a human in the most honest and genuine way.

KOKAYI
When Letting Go is Love
Photograph, Giclee Print
18 x 24 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

When Letting Go Is Love embodies the chaotic juxtaposition of emotions experienced during the global pandemic, which exposed systemic inequalities and structural racism throughout the United States. My hope is that this work exhibits the resilience of not just a business owner facing the shuttering of her business, but that of a Black woman creative and business owner facing a tsunami of “othering” in a single calendar year. Yet that resilience, which has been held within the intangible historical memory of Black people, specifically within the Black woman, is a testament to fortitude—to an adherence to hope and the sheer will of a people who refuse to quit.

GARY KRET
Renounce
White marble and cast bronze
5-1/2 x 6 x 8-3/4 in.
Courtesy of the artist


ARTIST STATEMENT

Exploring the frustrating, disappointing, and sometimes tumultuous aspects of the human condition has been a consistent theme in my work. Now more than ever, it is essential that we take the time to consider these aspects and be more thoughtful and reflective in our lives. While creating a work of art can be a solitary and highly introspective undertaking, publicly exhibiting that work invites an audience to participate in that introspection and look deeper within their own lives. Renounce is one of a series of biographical sculptures that portrays a shared experience of feeling powerless. We all have a desire to be accepted and to be a part of something larger than ourselves—only too often falling short and enduring denial, accepting that denial, and, ultimately, reaching isolation.

The bronze components depict a feeling of frustration and shame, exclusion, rejection, and supplication. They characterize our trial of being held back and deterred, of only getting so far. The marble elements become barriers. They illustrate the force of authority and domination of institutional judgment and events beyond our control.

KATE KRETZ
Social Murder
Deconstructed counterfeit MAGA hats, thread, cotton
5 x 5-3/4 x 4 in. 
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

This piece is part of The MAGA Hat Collection, a series begun in early 2019. I made this series to aggressively confront the Americans who were complicit in the Trump administration’s cruelty, negligence of duty, and attempted destruction of our democracy.

I made Social Murder when the coronavirus hit our country, and I realized that, once again, it was the most vulnerable among us who were going to suffer from Donald Trump’s policies.

When the people you love are in peril, the standard human response is to impulsively rush to save them. Although our former president put his hand on the Bible and swore to protect the American people, Trump’s instinctive response was not one of love for his citizens, but a move to protect his own power. The United States instantly split into those who could afford to work from home and others who never had that option: risk your life at work or lose your paycheck.

CATHERINE LEVINSON
The sky is glorious, burning through with sunlight. There is new green growth for me to seek out as I follow the path forward.
Gouache
15 x 20 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

COVID-19 turned the world from outside to inside and made everything upside down and dark with loneliness, isolation, loss, and death. The vaccines brought new hope. My painting expresses this hope through the brightness and vibrancy of colors with new green growth, a glorious sky, and a path forward—all symbolizing a way out of Inside Outside, Upside Down.

KRISTY LITTLE
(Re)Surge
Mahogany, steel wire, and wax

9 x 16 x 5 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

The year 2020 was the weirdest year of my life, and I am sure yours. From the frantic rush of my first solo show to the gradual repression of a life that I understood, life became vacuum-packed. I struggled initially to make sculpture, sliding into greeting card–making to connect to friends and family. Finally, I picked up my drill and began making again. My latest works try to represent my sense of hopeful joy for the future. Working with wood, wire, and wax settles me into a rhythm. I endlessly repeat gestures: I pierce the wood, cut the wire, dip in molten wax, force into my drilled holes—hundreds of times. Patterns and shapes evolve from these actions, decisions taken almost without conscious thought. Each work consolidates gradually, becoming a whole sculpture. They echo with the energy of the wire, somehow reminiscent of a mini-tsunami vibrating in our midst.

KIM LLERENA
Stonewall Jackson (dismantled), Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia
Archival pigment print
20 x 16 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

Until this year, most of my practice occurred during lengthy road trips across the country. My recent work seeks out fragments and remnants of our national experience, deconstructs our visual landscape, highlights past failures and hopeful futures, and connects the historical with the contemporary.

Over the past few years, cities around the country have seen monuments to the Confederacy dismantled—some by stalwart protesters, others by official order. On July 1, 2020, General Stonewall Jackson and his horse were removed from their concrete pedestal after the mayor of Richmond ordered the removal of all such statues from city land. Hopefully, moments like these, borne of a collective effort to reverse the glorification of a bloody and racist American history, reveal the power of protest and foretell a more progressive United States in years to come.

AARON MAIER-CARRETERO
not in front of the kids
Oil on canvas
55 x 72 x 1-1/2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

I create narrative paintings that use the visual language of caricature and cartoons to better understand my connection to latinidad, whiteness, Jewishness, and maleness. I work from memories, personal photographs, and journals to make paintings that critically examine the way in which my family and I have bought into an American belief that to be white (or closer to it) is to be more important, more beautiful, more worthy of love. My goal is to expose and challenge problems such as domestic violence, physical abuse, racism, and self-hatred that proliferate unchecked for generations behind the carefully constructed facade of suburbia.

During the pandemic, studies found that the stay-at-home orders increased domestic abuse cases while also limiting access to support options for victims. not in front of the kids is a painting I created from personal photographs and memories to shine a light on the victims and survivors of domestic violence, especially children. Even when parents try to hide domestic violence, there are direct and indirect ways that children still absorb it.

TIMOTHY MAKEPEACE
Galactic Center of Mass- 9 stars v.1
Sumi ink and acrylic paint on paper
43 x 43 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

When the pandemic began, I had been working on a series of charcoal and pastel drawings inspired by the construction of the new James Webb Space Telescope, which will replace the Hubble Space Telescope. Contemplating all the new discoveries that would soon be revealed, I made a series of works that were inherently forward- and outward-looking. Then, the planet shut down, my world shrank, and I began to struggle with my artistic vision of exploration. My reaction to physical confinement was to start thinking more expansively about place, time, and our relationship to both. This journey of the mind has helped me escape the pandemic-induced boundaries of my studio.

The elliptical shapes in these works represent the orbital paths of the stars closest to the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, 26,000 light-years away—our center of gravity. Although data-driven, the works’ apparent abstraction is partly inspired by the constructivist movement, with its vocabulary of geometry, proportion, and optical play.



David Mordini 
Breathe with Me 
2021 
Video 
Courtesy of the artist 

ARTIST STATEMENT

I, like many artists, was emotionally paralyzed at the start of March 2020. I would travel daily to the studio only to sit and stare at the wall. Compassion for and fear of others sunk in, as humanity waited in horror for information and a message of hope. We watched daily as those afflicted by this mysterious pandemic gasped for air, alone, separated from their families.

In addition to the pandemic, breathing both physically and metaphorically became a struggle for the nation as it witnessed a fellow human being suffocated by another. Nervous twitches took over as I sat speechless, confused, and in stillness. Struggling to swallow, I reflected on the emotional and physical pain. The world sat with racing heartbeats as we all desperately worried about loved ones. Human interaction had turned from hugs to video monitors, and video seemed appropriate for such reflections. It was a year of learning and adapting. Breathe with Me was part of this adaptation and is my first video performance.

BARBARA MUTH
Quaran-teened
Acrylic on canvas
60 x 40 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

From my childhood forward, I have been an inveterate people watcher. Observing people and anticipating their behaviors kept me safe. It also kept me engaged in life, piquing my curiosity with questions about why people behaved the way they did. These interests led me to the study of psychology, and ultimately to figure painting. When painting, I layer one color over another, creating a history of marks and emotions. As the painting progresses, lower layers peek through, ensuring that all I have thought and felt is represented in the final work. My color choices have largely been influenced by my early adult years living in Venezuela.

WERLLAYNE NUNES
US
Oil on linen panel
30 x 60 x 2-1/2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

As the defining social injustices of our time unfold in high relief, our children are witnesses, but still they rise. With this motivation, my current paintings pay homage to the creative and resilient spirit of childhood in the face of structural adversity. US depicts three children from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, from different corners of the United States that I have called home (Texas and Washington, DC). Connected through play on a tin can telephone and set against an imaginary background, the children embody the rich racial and ethnic tapestry of the United States. The title evokes both the pronoun “us” and the acronym “US” to signal belonging within the country’s diverse population.

I juxtapose individuals in their depicted contexts with colorful backgrounds to create a visual magical realism. I use this visual strategy not to romanticize these social ills, but rather to provide portraits that reflect the complexity, agency, and humanity of people who experience marginalization.

ZSUDAYKA NZINGA
Protests Erupt
Mixed media (acrylic, vinyl, decorative hand-dyed paper, Ankara fabric, digital transfer and ink) on canvas
44 x 36 in.
Courtesy of the artist and Terrell Arts DC

ARTIST STATEMENT

This painting addresses issues of class and experience during the social unrest of the summer of 2020. It is based on a photo my husband took of our youngest daughter playing at her grandparents’ house, having a tea party with her toys while 15 minutes down the street there were riots protesting police brutality.

Protests Erupt is a commentary addressing the privilege of being able to continue to live a regular life while others fought physically for rights and freedoms. It challenges notions of what defines revolution and the role of each participant. Am I, as a parent, creating a peaceful, safe, beautiful existence for a Black person participating in a revolution, but in a different way? Is there internal conflict as a parent when watching violence and shielding our children? I wanted to be able to address what was going on without centering the subject on violence featuring a Black person’s body. And this is how my baby was taking it in and how I experienced that moment with her—the awareness between us.

JENNIFER O’CONNELL
Letters Unwritten
Oil on canvas
40 x 30 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

“April 18, 2020—A box full of blank cards sits on the bed on a Saturday morning. We are home and contemplate our lives, maybe with some regrets, tasks undone or ‘letters unwritten.’ Our time at home also reveals the beauty all around, like a shaft of light coming through a window.”

This past year has been filled with anxiety, uncertainty, stress, and sadness. But it also gave me a gift: uninterrupted time and space to work in the studio. Last spring, when there were no planes overhead and few vehicles on the roads, pollution levels plummeted. A new silence descended and the light felt different. It was brighter, more piercing. This “Hopper-esque” light struck me as I glanced into our middle bedroom one morning. I sketched the scene and took some reference photos. As I was making the painting, its meaning for me emerged.

JOHN PAN
Remember
Digital photograph
16 x 20 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

Empty chairs, like headstones, marching to the Tent and the Capitol, under a stormy sky. One would hope for and expect a united nation, to fight a common scourge. It was not to be. Opportunities missed. Lives lost, leaving empty chairs.

JUDITH PECK
State Collapse
Oil on panel

16 x 20 in.
Courtesy of Contemporary Gallery, Chicago, IL

ARTIST STATEMENT

“When the virus came here, it found a country with serious underlying conditions, and it exploited them ruthlessly. Chronic ills—a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public—had gone untreated for years,” wrote George Packer for The Atlantic in June 2020. The outbreak of COVID-19 revealed an emperor with no clothes in the United States: a nation whose response to a devastating crisis was more akin to that of a failed state than a superpower. The subject of State Collapse, with heavy-lidded eyes and body curled, is rendered immobile beneath the weight of this failure, buried by the helplessness and isolation so many Americans felt throughout the pandemic.

SHEDRICK PELT
I Can't Stand the Rain
Medium format film photography
16 x 20H in.
Courtesy of artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

Out of the toughest of times comes powerful imagery—it is the solar year 2020 and the world is at a standstill. Things quickly grow into a state of panic, which only intensifies after the murder of George Floyd, months into what is now a global pandemic. Through the collective trauma of the moment, we still found the emotional space to celebrate our history, Black history.

I Can’t Stand the Rain was made during the 2020 Juneteenth celebration at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC. The image depicts a young Black man, Afro peppered with freshly fallen raindrops, Black Power Afro pick adorning the crown of his tilted head. A bright green bandanna covers his nose and mouth. His eyes exude strength and worry, hope and disappointment. Capturing this image using a civil rights–era Pentax 6 × 7 medium-format camera, shot on Kodak Portra 400 film stock, imbued the portrait with a textured nostalgia. It pays homage to the world-changing social justice movement, lending its virtue to a community in need 60 years later.

KRISTINA PENHOET
How Many More?
Fiber, variable,
86 x 101 x 58 in.
Courtesy of artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

I am fascinated by the challenging positive and negative experiences and emotions that make up the depth and breadth of human experience. My biomorphic forms are often inspired by the human body, connecting the viewer to my work and invoking an emotional response. The repetition of forms common in much of my work is intended to enhance the emotional response of the viewers while reminding them of the universality of their experiences. I want to challenge us to be curious, seeking understanding and perhaps even beauty in the moments that make us human, which can lead to profound empathy for one another.

More specifically, How Many More? questions, through the repetitive creation and placement of abstracted visceral forms, the regard with which we hold each other in our current environment of gun violence, racism, and the pandemic. How many more will be injured, abandoned, forgotten, suffer, and die before we reframe our understanding?

MARTA PEREZ GARCIA
Your Hand
Molded cotton handmade paper and stitching with yarn
19 x 11x 2 in.
Courtesy of artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

Tu mano

Tu mano,/ La misma que una vez me acaricio / Ahora me arrebato la vida.

Your Hand

Your Hand,/ The very one that once caressed me / Has now taken my life.

Through my work, I purport to give a voice, a stage, and a presence to survivors of gender violence who are forced to live in silence. Isolation compounds problems for survivors of gender violence who have to “shelter” in place with their aggressor. With this piece, I am reflecting on the tragic irony of what has been called “sheltering” in place, where survivors of gender violence have largely become invisible, forgotten, and left to their own devices while at the mercy of their tormentors. In the confines of the confinement, their hand becomes a weapon.

Sewing is traditionally a women’s activity that goes back generations. Through both the medium and the imagery, my piece tells the story of the perpetuation of femicide. I view my role as an artist as making the invisible visible.

LYDIA PETERS
The Fair Fight Queen
Water mixable oil paint, broken glass, clear bead, rhinestones, and resin on canvas
40 x 30 x 1-1/2 in.
Courtesy of artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

In my art, I like to create different styles while telling a story. My work goes closely with the theme of this exhibition, Inside Outside, Upside Down. I chose Stacey Abrams because of her work ethic in advocating for free and fair voting rights for the people in Georgia and around the country. In this composition, I chose a smiling Abrams to portray her personality, while adding broken glass to give a shining star appearance. The rhinestones help to pull together a professional look, while I added the clear beads for texture. Stacey Abrams is my/our shining star, hence the title: The Fair Fight Queen.

JUNKO PINKOWSKI
A Pandemic Gestation
Mixed media
9 pieces of 8 x 8 in.
Courtesy of artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

A compounding mixture of overwhelming events has festered during the pandemic: the unruly spread of the COVID-19 virus, the civil unrest and BLM protests, the Capitol riot, a fenced-in inauguration, and more . . . During this period, I desperately sought something peaceful and beautiful, something kind, even, that might counter the angry faces, ascending numbers of death and sadness, and the cold vacancy of the National Mall. I retreated to my artwork for a sort of therapy, compartmentalizing the hardship and unfolding simplicity in art imagery from it. The process of packing and unpacking, both literal images and psychological impressions, became a repeated ritual that yielded a slow yet steady progress against the vulgarity of the time. Art can save us, sometimes, and I am grateful for what it yielded here. A Pandemic Gestation, a nine-piece series as a way of evolving beauty from ugliness, offers a glimpse into a monthly artistic meditation that has allowed me to come out of a threatening physical, political, and psychological uncertainty into a newborn inspiration and wonder at it all.



DOMINICK RABRUN
Dr. La.Salle, The Spider Queen, and Me
Digital mixed media video installation
Courtesy of artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

I created this multimedia video piece to represent a collage of my thoughts and actions during 2020. It is as frenetic and fractured as my existence has felt this past year. In this video, I sample artists, biochemistry, ideas, languages, and my past to try and paint an accurate portrait of time and identity during one of the hardest periods of my life. 



 MOJDEH REZAEIPOUR 

watching time watching god 
2020 
Video 
Courtesy of the artist 

ARTIST STATEMENT

I spent many of my first weeks in lockdown behind the lens of my camera, bearing witness to time through watching the light move across the wall, the moon move across the sky, etc. I then projected hours and hours of this collected footage onto various surfaces in the space, capturing a layered imprint as part of a silent conversation with the house itself. Meanwhile, the ambulance sirens shrieked, the birds chirped, the helicopters flew past, and I managed, in this liminal moment, to make a handful of dear friends in the neighborhood with whom I continue to be in touch to this day. To me, this work is as much about what is visible as what is not. What has shaped my learning lies at the intersection of bearing witness, being in a relationship, and surrender.

MARIE RINGWALD
exurbia #2
Acrylic, watercolor, and pencil on Arches cold press paper
10 x 40-3/4 in.
Courtesy of artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

This is a painting of a closed, people-less warehouse—the exurban landscape we are left with during the pandemic.

JANATHEL SHAW
Unmasked
Graphite on paper, acrylic, black sand, and mixed media
35 x 27 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

I named this self-portrait Unmasked: Hidden Warrior. It shows me removing my proverbial mask. I am not referring to the ones we wear due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the mask in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask.” All Black Americans know it intimately. It helps to keep us safe and grounded in a society and world that is capricious and often cruel.

In this image, I examine my emotional state and the price that was paid to prepare me to be resilient. It is evident in the age lines, my stance, and the direct gaze that confronts the viewer. The metal bracelet I wear shows my pride in my ancestors, a nod to the Sankofa Bird. This spiritual bird reminds us to never forget the past so that we can move forward. In the center of the bracelet is a lone figure that symbolizes those Africans that died during the Middle Passage.

My black dress of colored sand and sparkles stands for modernity and progress. It is pretty and alluring. Yet, the surface is gritty and underscores strength borne of pain.

JOSEPH SHETLER
Untitled (quiet in the city)
Mixed acrylic ground, graphite powder, marble dust, and silverpoint on panel
48 x 36 x 2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

The value of simplicity in my upbringing has greatly inspired my practice, both conceptually and aesthetically. Raised in a Mennonite family, the idea of simplicity pervades all aspects of life.

As summer approached, health guidelines and curfews were used by the police to brutalize and oppress communities of color. We witnessed the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. More and more scenes of racial injustice came to the forefront of our collective consciousness. The act of listening, practicing empathy, recognizing our biases, and making conscious decisions to deconstruct them seemed to be the best way to remain objective.

The work itself is an exploration and appreciation of materials. It is filled with contradictions that make it utterly human. I see Untitled (quiet in the city) as a reflection of our COVID-19-era consciousness. Those who could escape did, leaving behind deserted streets and an eerie calm. This vacancy provided an opportunity to see inside and outside of context, to be objective and remain present in simplicity.

NICOLAS SHI
I Am Not A Virus
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 30 x 1-1/2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

In recent years, I have focused my work on my family’s immigration history. My father emigrated from China to El Salvador in the 1920s, where he experienced extreme discrimination. Fifty years later, I followed in his footsteps and came to the United States. As a Latino and Asian man, I am not foreign to discrimination and racist incidents, such as verbal and physical confrontations.

Recently, blaming China for the onset and spread of COVID-19 has increased the aggression on Chinese people, and other Asians, living in the United States. As a response to these growing racist attacks as seen in our country and across the globe, I am creating a series of personal portraits to illustrate how terms like the “Chinese virus” and other xenophobic remarks are dehumanizing and have led to anti-Asian sentiment and discrimination. We are not the virus, but racism is.

TIM TATE
Justinian's Oculus
Cast Poly-Vitro, paint
31 x 31 x 4 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

The Plague of Justinian was the first known plague, in 541–549 AD. It was the first time that the black plague was seen on this planet and it was named after the Roman Emperor Justinian I, who reportedly contracted it early on in Constantinople, though he survived. It ultimately killed one-fifth of the entire population of that city over five years. The people there called it Justinian’s Plague. Justinian said that whenever he saw his reflection, he imagined the faces of those who died looking back.

This is my second pandemic as I have lived through the AIDS crisis. So many souls have been lost to both. Strange that the mind will forget so much of what only this moment has passed, and yet hold crystal clear the memory of what happened years ago . . . of men and women long since dead. Yet who can say what is real and what is not? Can I believe my friends are gone when their voices are still whispering into my ears every night as I fall asleep? I will always believe they live on in my heart and mind.

JULIO VALDEZ
Pandemic Self-Portrait III,
Archival pigment print on Dibond

20 x 27 in.
Courtesy of the artist


ARTIST STATEMENT

I explore portraiture as an imperfect translation of a self that can never be captured. This new pandemic self-portrait is a vehicle for exploring cultural identity, as the COVID-19 pandemic has become a cultural experience that is redefining us from the inside out, as individuals and as a people.

My paintings explore an oceanic landscape at once dreamlike and hallucinatory. I have been exploring images of water as a metaphor for consciousness and the creative process. My creative process reflects my interest in creating a spatial uncertainty, a sense of time not yet defined. In my paintings, I use the “allover technique” to call the attention of the viewer to the entire visual field. I focus on visual aspects (transparency, color saturation, luminosity, forms, etc.) and combine them in such a way that form and content become inseparable.



JESSICA VALORIS 

still: a rival geography 
2020 
Video 
Courtesy of the artist 

ARTIST STATEMENT

If movement is how we resist, then stillness is how we persist. still: a rival geography is a ritual that honors my ancestors: those named and unnamed, known and unknown. Through the creation of an incantation bowl, an ancient Judaic protection practice, still is a meditation on all the ways that my Black, Jewish, and Indigenous ancestral lineages find home and find each other in my body, and in my being.

still: a rival geography is a part of a larger body of work called Black Fugitive Folklore. As “abolition” became a popular term following the uprisings for Black lives in 2020, public discourse erased and ignored the history of the abolitionist movement which was founded by formerly enslaved Black people who escaped, sparking a legacy of liberation and radical political resistance. Black Fugitive Folklore shifts the narrative around emancipation and freedom in the United States—rooting it in an anti-oppressive politic that resists assimilation and centers the lives and transformative legacies of Black people. 

IAN WHITE
Lost In My Space
Digital print
19 x 13 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

This poster empathizes with the longing to be productive while lacking the motivation to do so due to the effects of isolation. With all the newfound time that isolation provided, my and many others’ immediate response was to try to get as much done as possible. A calm and quiet place started to feel increasingly chaotic. A place that previously served as a sanctuary at the end of a rough day became something else entirely. As time passed, the desire to be productive while being simultaneously burned-out from the constant tragedy happening around us grew into something much more overbearing.

RICHARD L. WILLIAMS
Claudette, Roman and Rashard – February 2021
Film photograph
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

My influence is drawn from my family, with a particular focus on my senior family members. As a child, I would oftentimes thumb through my parents’ and grandparents’ photo albums, and was awed as I followed them through their journey from adolescence to older adulthood. My goal is to highlight Black communities and communities of color and show the beauty in our variety—that we are not monolithic.

I use my work to highlight the everyday contributions that Black folks provide. Whether I am capturing the first Black woman to be the owner of a community solar energy company or photographing my grandmother simply enjoying her Tuesday at home, I feel that it is necessary to show the multifaceted pieces of our existence. There is strength in our resilience, there is strength in our accomplishments, and there is also strength in our silence. I believe that it is my duty, and the duty of those who look like me, to be solely responsible for sharing our own stories, and I use my work to embody that.

COLIN WINTERBOTTOM
Vigil for Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Archival pigment print
19-1/2 x 24 in.
Courtesy of the artist

ARTIST STATEMENT

On the evening that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, hundreds of Washingtonians spontaneously assembled on the plaza outside the Supreme Court. They quietly gathered to honor the great life Ginsburg had lived and to reflect on how their lives were enriched through her activism, her judicial decision, and her remarkable example.

As a fine art photographer, architecture is my muse. But hungry for inspiration since COVID-19 restrictions had slowed our lives, I thought a new practice in my architectural work could apply to photographing gatherings in the city. We look over the shoulders of the nearest group as they look down to their memorial offerings. Beyond them we see those on the plaza as they return the gaze of those on the distant stairs. They are two groups looking to each other as they reflect and worry, their thoughts rising up to the court itself, with its imperiled promise engraved in marble: “Equal Justice Under Law.”