Photographer Carrie Mae Weems has initiated a national art display called Resist COVID/Take 6!, which seeks to raise awareness about the deadly virus, as well as the necessary measures to prevent its spread within Black, Latinx, and Native American communities, which have been disproportionately impacted.
Weems has partnered with arts centers, museums, food banks, universities, and health clinics, among other mission-driven organizations, to roll out the campaign in multiple NYC locations and other cities including Syracuse, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Durham, Nashville, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, Sarasota, and Savannah.
Since October 15, the installation has been on display in multiple languages throughout Lincoln Center‘s campus.
Through various creative means (billboards, wheatpaste, lawn signs, bus shelters, church fans, bags, buttons, bookmarks, magnets, reusable and paper bags) Resist COVID/Take 6! highlights the staggering death toll of COVID-19 and alerts the general public. Through these efforts, it underscores the importance of social distancing, encourages public discussion, dispels the myths and dangers of false cures associated with the virus, and thanks our front line and essential workers.
“Our project is meant to be a public service awareness campaign that in some small way helps to save lives, as a constant reminder of what needs to be done as we push through this pandemic and its extraordinary effect on us,” says Weems. “We needed lawn signs; we needed posters to go into business windows; we used newspaper advertising circulars to deliver messaging directly into the home; we used grocery bags, shopping bags, paper and reusable bags that we could give to food banks and pantries—because we know that with the unemployment crisis this really hit in some of the poorest communities across the nation, where food lines are miles long. And inside the bags would be all kinds of material that could be used and serve as a constant reminder that this is serious, this is not a hoax, this is deadly real.”
The urgency of raising awareness in the communities that need it most, in every state across the country, is both immediate and will be ongoing, as the country continues to grapple with the virus in the months and possibly years to come. As one of the leading photographers of our day and the first Black woman to have a career retrospective show at the Guggenheim, Carrie Mae Weems’ stirring images make this both a public art installation and a vital public health initiative.
“What I’ve found heartening and surprising in equal measure is the way in which any number of cultural institutions have taken this project and are using this project to connect to their public and communities in ways they’ve never quite connected before,” says Weems. “And that it is one of those projects that allows people to have an ongoing dialogue and a commitment of care about the community in which it’s situated. These institutions are saying, we care about being in this community, we care about keeping you safe, and we care about keeping you whole.”
Learn more about the exhibit on Lincoln Center’s website.