For many Angelenos, one of the most challenging aspects of the pandemic has been strained access to resources crucial to both physical and emotional wellbeing. This new reality has forced us to redefine nearly all aspects of our lives; everything from dance classes to small business ownership to saying our last goodbyes has had to change.
The effects of COVID-19 can be seen and felt across every demographic, but the severity and specificity of its impact vary widely. Due to this range of effects, we are witnessing an equally wide variety of reactions and coping mechanisms across communities. From Angelenos caring for frontline workers to Angelenos caring for themselves, local creative practices have shone a light on the balancing act of wellness for the last year. Community Care looks at the human response to change, loss, and uncertainty in the face of a global pandemic.
We encourage visitors to experience the artworks both in the order that they have been laid out on the page – top to bottom – as well as to consider them singly or grouped together in ways that resonate the most with their own journey over the past year.
Content Warning: Certain artworks included in this Curatorial Showcase feature or mention depression, illness, death/dying, and/or domestic abuse/violence.
the final goodbye: I CAN’T/ I CAN, 2020
“Many of us have lost someone close during this year due to COVID. My Aunt Pat was one of those who had to take her final breaths by herself in a hospital bed, no one to hold her as she passed. Both these videos unpack the inner monologue I was having with myself during time leading up to her passing. I CAN’T was a common phrase and it felt sad and hopeless- so I tried to change my mindset to I CAN and focus on the few silver linings about the situation at large. While dealing death is never easy, even when we know it’s inevitable, my hope is that these pieces can spread a bit of light and hope as we continue to process all that has changed this year.” —NP
Amazing Grace (arranged for three C flutes, alto flute, and bass flute), 2020
Audio, video, performance
“My arrangement is dedicated to our medical workers fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic… “Amazing Grace” is about faith, comfort, and community. My hope is that through my music, I can impart these feelings to our medical workers, and our community as a whole.” —SO
Freedom of Choice?, 2020
“The original WPA (Works Progress Administration) posters of the 1930’s addressed health concerns like syphilis and tuberculosis. With today’s health crisis, a pandemic of grave proportion, and many believing that having a choice is more important than following a mandate, this poster sets out to inspire people to choose wisely by simply being considerate and selfless.” —HC
“This piece is a ‘thank you’ to the essential workers who have put themselves at risk to be of service to people throughout Los Angeles. I have included the words ‘thank you’ in Farsi, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog, English, and Spanish to represent a few of the languages most commonly spoken by the people of Los Angeles. During this pandemic, I have been very aware of the sacrifices made by grocery workers, medical professionals, mail carriers, public transit operators and so many others. I wanted my piece to be a message of gratitude to all of those who have been a true lifeline for me and the city at large during these uncertain and often scary times.” —LA
MUSIC & MEMORIES, 2020
Video, audio, performance
“For 8 years I have has been performing for the residents of senior assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation, and memory care facilities. Due to Covid-19 these facilities were the very first to be locked down. The experience performing for these people has been a rewarding one. It brings them such joy. Using [this video]… I have reached out to them utilizing DVD and/or presenting my music virtually. In this way, I have been able to once again enrich their lives giving them music, memories and laughter.” —AC
Am I Broken, 2020
“This piece was initially written as a diary entry when I was struck by a truck while walking in San Francisco. I spent days isolated in my bedroom recovering from a concussion, trying to make sense of my world and the unbearable heaviness that surrounded me. Now, with the world lockdown, I felt the need to complete this piece. It’s the same sentiment now as it was then for me.
The opening line “Am I broken or am I healing?” really poses the question of perspective. The world is broken right now, but if we reach out to each other, we can prevent all these rebounds and get through to the other side, stronger.” —KC
On being good, 2020
Poetry, video, new media
“I wrote this piece during quarantine and a few months later edited into a stop motion short. The poem describes a conflict I often grapple with, suffering from myriad mental illnesses but appearing to be high functioning, productive, or even put together. Some days I worry that my illnesses – which are a part of who I am – will betray me, exposing my fragility and my weakness. Other days I struggle to get out of bed and wish for the strength to ask for help. Being ‘good’ can be quite exhausting, but it doesn’t mean we stop trying.”—EBH
The 100th Day, 2020
“During the pandemic phone calls to the domestic violence hotline and domestic violence police reports have risen to as much as 150 calls per day. I wanted to make a film that shows the isolation of the pandemic and the effects on minority women dealing with domestic abuse in isolation.”—SR
One hundred and eight Covid Drawings, 2020
“During the Covid quarantine I started making 10 inch square drawings every other day to explore the relationship between Fibonacci, basket weaving, my dreams, and virus spread. Daily statistics and dates are on the backside. This began as a survival technique but has now evolved into a larger research project.” —FS
A grey day, 2020
“It is my way of seeing covid 19 as something so small is at the same time so powerful and destructive, that it does not distinguish race, religion or age because it lodges in your system and kills you. It is in a day where everything can happen because you do not think about tomorrow only to live today without being infected.” —JM
Mixed media, sculpture, textile
“In my work, I explore the unknowns presented by the bodies we inhabit and their (mis)functionings. My starting point has been personal experience, but I’m also interested the U.S. healthcare system and medical philosophy—for example, thinking about definitions of health and disease. This year, I’ve also been thinking about permeability: how Western thought often considers bodies as individual units—an idea shattered by this pandemic, where we are connected not just by touch, but by the air we breathe.” —AK
Daniel R. Small
Untitled (Arc protein series), 2020
“My research currently considers the Arc protein, a virus that began around 300 million years ago and infected land mammals. Today the protein is responsible for the plasticity of human memory as it acts as a kind of conduit between synapses. My interest in this is to contextualize the current pandemic by thinking about the way in which our very memory of what is currently happening is part of a larger epicycle of infection dating back millions of years. As a part of this research I’m quite intrigued by recent claims that half of the human genome is derived from viral origins.
These works contemplate an indexical rendering of time through an encyclopedic pairing of excised found images with morphologies of the Arc protein viral capsid that have been 3-D printed over the same spans of time.”—DS
I Hope You Know, 2020
Video, audio, performance
“There is a music tent in the middle of the [test site] where I play piano for the droves of cars making their way in, and a lot of those people are hearing live music for the first time since the pandemic began. It’s really something special to be a part of.” —DH
“This is an excerpt from an ongoing body of work illustrating Los Angeles in the year 2020, these images were created between November 25th and December 2nd… At a time where most individuals gather to share time with loved ones; we remain separated…” —EF
“This piece is meant to serve as a gentle reminder that even amid chaos and detriment, we have the tools to ignite peace within ourselves, at any given moment.”—EF
Amulet against fever, 2020
“Tracing the etymologies to Hebrew, the phrase literal means “I create as I speak.” Abracadabra is a traditional amulet used to ward off viruses. It’s magic power dates back to the ancient Roman Empire where this folk etymology was coined. During the Great Plague of London (1665-1666), Londoners would hang this triangular form of the amulet on their doorways.”—JB
Weng San Sit
Routine As Repertoire, 2020-21
These works are selections from the artist’s ongoing project, Routine as Repertoire which “uses photography and videos to explore routines that women incorporate into our lives as our bodies go through transformation or challenges, visible or not. Through the project, I hope that experiences such as illnesses, disabilities, aging, motherhood, and gender transitioning can be viewed beyond the tragic or heroic polarities, and shared in its complexities of resilience, vulnerabilities, humor, labor, banality, and frustrations, etc. Due to the pandemic, the project had adapted to the circumstances as women had to make changes to their routines.”—WSS
“Ray & Jay, owners and founders of Spoon & Pork in Silverlake, enjoy a break… They converted their dining room into a full on take out/delivery operation.” This photograph is from a series depicting “small business owners in the greater LA area who have been affected by the Covid 19 Pandemic, but have found ways to pivot their businesses to stay open.”—GN
“Jeremy Reitman and his son, Jett, in his garage that he converted into a 3D printing operation for face shield production. Reitman, over the course of several months, made thousands of face shields for healthcare workers that experienced a shortage of PPE in their facilities.”—ML
Afro-Peruvian Culture Day, 2020
Social practice, performance
Nadia Calmet created the Afro-Peruvian Culture Day event in order to bring visibility to the cultural diversity of Peru and further preserve “traditional dances like Festejo, Zamacueca, Toromata, Zapateo (Afroperuvian Tap) and also instruments such as the cajon, quijada and cajita.” Working within the restrictions of COVID-19, the artist was able to successfully adapt what is usually a large in-person event into a series of classes, conferences, and free online exhibitions.
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Winter Dance!, 2020
Video, performance, social practice
“Since the pandemic began I have had to rethink how to provide dance education from a distance. It felt like a daunting task to start over after losing all sources of income but at that point I had nothing else to lose. I started offering live dance classes and posting on social media to market them. The response was overwhelmingly positive. My inbox flooded with words of encouragement from parents and it gave me the confidence to continue. Through this experience I have been able to teach kids from all over the country and even a few international! This is me teaching a class from a cleared out space in my bedroom. This is Studio Stacey.”—SS
Virtual Conservatory, 2020
Social practice, theater
Producer/director Jacob Harvey joins arts education leaders from across Los Angeles County to discuss the challenges of teaching conservatory style arts in virtual space, during a pandemic.
Performance, new media, social practice
Scott Ellaway directs Orchestra Europa for a socially distant educational broadcast of Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048. Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750).
A Microorganism Of My Own Digital-Well-being, 2020
“The pandemic hit me incredibly hard. I make my living as a touring/studio musician… my performances being cancelled for the rest of the year and indefinitely. This took me to a dark place… Luckily, I live at the Brewery Artists Lofts in downtown LA and happen to be surrounded by such creative talent that I was forced out of my dark place… With Microorganism, I wanted to represent not just where we were in the pandemic, but also where we are going… We have turned a page in humanity, realigned our relationship to the cyber world, plunged into our microchip of existence, forcibly tweaking our digital well-being.” —D
“With both covid, the west coast forest fires and the heating up of the political drama battering my senses, I found that my main source of sanity and serenity came from long walks in nature, and writing simple songs. Those disciplines have always been my greatest ally in maintaining equilibrium within. My hope is that these forays into nature and sound may also bring something of benefit to the listener and viewer.” —RP
“As an artist affected by the pandemic, I took refuge in my art. Everything was canceled, my performances, shows, films. It was an emotional storm for me, but giving up wasn’t an option. Time in quarantine gave me the opportunity to rediscover myself. I reinvented my artistic self which felt like being reborn from the ashes, and I finally understood what Frida said “Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly”. I got inspired by Loie Fuller’s serpentine dance which is a form of dance that was popular in the 1890s. She was reborn through her dance, and this challenging time made me aspire to follow in her footsteps.” —CS
Balancing Act, 2020
“My piece is a response to the constant changes in our environment that have occurred due to Covid-19. In many ways, it’s been a balancing act of our mental, emotional, and physical agility and strength to navigate these tumultuous times.”—PF
“Depression is something we all must deal with in our lives at some point or another. If left unattended it can grow to a point that it can completely take over our lives. Like a black hole it can suck out the air in a room asphyxiating us and those around us. In these trying times it is important to seek out mental Health services and take responsibility for our own mental well-being for our safety and the safety of those we love.”—AM