University Launches Project in Atlanta and Savannah Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 on Black, Latino and Native Communities
SAVANNAH and ATLANTA, Georgia — August 3, 2020 — The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has partnered with renowned artist Carrie Mae Weems to launch a public art initiative raising critical health awareness about COVID-19 and the ways racial inequities have manifested in the pandemic, with people of color inordinately at risk. The artist-driven project, RESIST COVID/TAKE 6!, cites the precaution for people to maintain a six-foot distance from one another and speaks to the urgency of Weems’ call to action.
Weems began working on this new project this spring while artist-in-residence at Syracuse University, as the extent of the COVID-19 crisis became apparent. The idea came from a conversation of Weems and her close friend Pierre Loving, lamenting what they saw unfolding.
“The arts allow us to get closest to our humanity,” says Carrie Mae Weems. “One of the important things is to understand the circumstances under which we live. This means unmasking inequity, because then you begin to see the power structures that are under it to keep you fighting one another as opposed to really looking at really the source of the problems.”
In addition to a presentation at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, RESIST COVID/TAKE 6! will also be on view at SCAD Atlanta. A sequence of commanding billboards and bus shelters bring its message to the attention of residents in one of the country’s highly impacted cities. Flyers, “church-style” fans, and bags will be distributed through Meals on Wheels Atlanta and various local organizations in Savannah. The printed pieces will be directing audiences to local resources including COVID-19 testing sites.
The works showcase the realities of the international health crisis while providing notes of gratitude to workers within the health and service industries and making direct appeals for people to take preventive safety measures.
SCAD has over a decade-long friendship with Weems. The artist has collaborated with the university on numerous exhibitions and initiatives to showcase her dynamic work. Weems has been a distinguished visiting professor at SCAD Atlanta and worked with students on a thought-provoking film, “Constructing History: A Requiem to Mark the Moment,” for the National Black Arts Festival in 2008. In 2016, Weems was the SCAD deFINE ART honoree and keynote speaker. That same year she had an accompanying exhibition titled “Carrie Mae Weems: Considered” at the SCAD Museum of Art in the Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies.
Most recently, Weems spoke with SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace for her ‘On Creativity’ podcast where the artist discussed recent and upcoming creative work, the importance of the RESIST COVID/TAKE 6! initiative, and her legacy in the industry.
“As a new public-facing art initiative, not only does RESIST COVID/TAKE 6! raise critical health awareness, but it shines a light on how this pandemic has disproportionately affected Black, Latino and Native communities,” says SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace. “We are delighted to be partnering with Carrie Mae Weems, longtime friend of SCAD, to bring this important work to Atlanta and Savannah.”
Weems hopes RESIST COVID/TAKE 6! will be impactful in both its immediate messaging and in prompting larger dialogue about the pandemic and the long-term state of those most severely affected. This initiative is also being activated in multiple cities nation-wide including New York, Detroit, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia in support by producing collaborators, THE OFFICE performing arts + film. For more information on the campaign please visit socialstudiesproject.org.
About Carrie Mae Weems
Weems is an internationally renowned artist who has used multiple mediums (photography, video, digital imagery, text, fabric and more) to explore themes of cultural identity, sexism, class, political systems, family relationships and the consequences of power.
Carrie Mae Weems has created a complex body of work that centers on her overarching commitment to helping us better understand our present moment by examining our collective past. Determined as ever to enter the picture — both literally and metaphorically — Weems has sustained an ongoing dialogue within contemporary discourse for more than 35 years.
Weems has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at major national and international museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Frist Center for Visual Art, Nashville; The Cleveland Museum of Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville, Spain.
She is represented in public and private collections around the world including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She lives and works in Syracuse, New York.
SCAD: The University for Creative Careers
The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit, accredited university, offering more than 100 academic degree programs in more than 40 majors across its locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and online via SCAD eLearning.
SCAD enrolls more than 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 100 countries. The innovative SCAD curriculum is enhanced by advanced professional-level technology, equipment, and learning resources, as well as opportunities for internships, professional certifications, and collaborative projects with corporate partners. In 2019, the prestigious Red Dot Design Rankings placed SCAD as the No. 1 university in the U.S. and in the top two universities in the Americas and Europe for the third consecutive year. Career preparation is woven into every fiber of the university, resulting in a superior alumni employment rate.
This press release was produced by the Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta. The views expressed here are the author’s own.