In the Queens Museum parking lot, Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada (previously) has painted a 20,000-square-foot mural as both an act of gratitude to Latinx healthcare workers, who have risked their own safety to care for others, and a nationwide call to action.
These are the people that make our city move, the people that care for us. These are the people that contribute socially, culturally, and economically to the nation… In the year 2020, where hindsight should not be clearer, it is amazing to me that we must continue to ask ourselves…how it is that minorities today still have to suffer the same injustices of the minorities of the past(?)
“Somos La Luz,” or “We Are The Light,” is a large-scale rendering of Dr. Ydelfonso Decoo, a pediatrician who died when fighting the virus in New York City. Rodríguez-Gerada hopes to draw attention to the disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases among Latinx and Black populations across the United States, in addition to the alarming rates of infection in Queens, one of the city’s epicenters for the virus.
In an Instagram post about the project, Rodríguez-Gerada said presenting the masked figure on such a massive scale reflects the enormity of the issue. “This artwork ‘Somos La Luz’ strives to give deeper meaning to the loss of each life,” the artist writes. “It strives to make evident the importance of every life as well as to value the amazing contribution of migrant people.”
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Barbies have garnered attention for years because of their unrealistic proportions, lack of diversity, and gendered activities. Despite some noteworthy changes, Tonya Ruiz, a former model turned toy designer, thought the usual selection of lavishly dressed and accessorized dolls could use another update that’s a little more timely. “When the quarantine started and I saw a couple of funny pandemic Barbies, I thought that I should make a Barbie that everyone could relate to. I created the quarantine starter pack: curvy doll in stretchy pants,” Ruiz says about the self-inspired doll that spurred the makeovers in a recent video.
Known as Grandma Gets Real, Ruiz has been creating parodic sets that highlight some of the most relatable quarantine activities. There’s a quarreling couple that has a plethora of cleaning products, a cast-iron of eggs, and a just-out-of-reach guide detailing how to divvy up chores. A scrubs-wearing nurse is complete with a miniature lab coat, X-rays, and thermometer, while bread-baking Barbie is covered in a white dusting of flour.
Ruiz shares updates of her toy spoofs on Instagram, in addition to close-ups of her miniature essentials, snacks, and quarantine activities. You also might enjoy these fake toys deposited on store shelves by Obvious Plant. (via designboom)
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A defiant middle finger, a heap of sunflower seeds, and various mythical creatures are all silk-screened in black ink on the blue cloth backdrops of nonsurgical masks. The artworks the most recent intervention by artist and activist Ai Weiwei (previously) to help raise money for organizations directly involved with combating the coronavirus pandemic.
Inspired by a documentary he’s making about COVID-19, the artist decided to create an entire collection after printing his iconic middle finger onto one of the disposable cloths. “An individual wearing a mask makes a gesture; a society wearing masks combats a deadly virus. And a society that wears masks because of the choices of individuals, rather than because of the directive of authorities, can defy and withstand any force. No will is too small and no act too helpless,” he writes on Instagram. While masks have become a ubiquitous symbol for the COVID-19 crisis, many of the inky renderings hearken back to Ai’s ongoing commitment to humanitarian efforts.
Hand-printed in the artist’s Berlin studio, the newly released face coverings are sold singularly and in groups of four and twenty. They’re available for purchase through June 27 on eBay, and proceeds will be split equally between Human Rights Watch, Refugees International, and Doctors Without Borders. (via Artsy)
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Take a seat for lunch at Izu Shabonten Zoo in Shizuoka, Japan, and meet your plush dining partners. To help restaurant patrons visualize social distancing guidelines, the zoo has occupied chairs with stuffed capybaras. The soft toys encourage diners to space out among the tables and maintain an appropriate distance.
With only a few other cuddly creatures in the mix, the institution’s main choice is a nod to its decades-long fascination with the giant rodent. Izu Zoo boasts a plethora of capybara-themed programming and souvenirs and also is credited with creating open-air hot baths in 1982 that offer the animals, which are native to South America, a place to bathe, relax, and warm up during cold winters.
Although many of us won’t be visiting the wild creatures in the near future, you can get a glimpse at their steamy retreats below. For similarly visual social distancing, check out Singapore’s tape demarcations. (via Spoon & Tamago)
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On a recent trip to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, three penguins from the Kansas City Zoo were keen to ruffle some feathers. As they waddled along their private tour— the museum currently is closed to humans due to COVID-19—Bubbles, Maggie, and Berkley served some polarizing opinions. Executive director and CEO Julián Zugazagoitia said the tuxedoed guests “seemed to react much better to Caravaggio than Monet,” whose work they only glance at in a video of their trip.
Despite the cold shoulders that they gave the French painter, zoo officials said the penguins enjoyed interacting with some new faces. “Unfortunately, our penguins can’t speak for themselves, but we think they found the experience at the museum very enriching.”
Zugazagoitia also noted that he spoke Spanish to the three birds, who are native to Chile and Peru, in order to break the ice and make them feel a little bit more comfortable in the space. All three are Humboldt penguins under eight years old, meaning that they’ve got more time to refine their tastes. The South American birds generally live more than 30 years.
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Berlin-based artist Falk Lehmann, who’s better known as AKUT (previously), recently decided to funnel the energy he would have been using during this time for exhibitions and festivals toward a collaborative project intended to connect artists around the world. After feeling cut off from his previously robust social and professional life, AKUT tasked 37 artists living in 30 different cities with creating “Isolated,” a short film that glimpses into each of their studios.
Participants—keep an eye out for Paola Delfín, Andreas Englund, Bezt, and others we’ve mentioned on Colossal—provided four-second clips spanning their workspace and some in-progress pieces before framing a digital screen, which provides the landscape to dive into the next studio in a chain-like series. AKUT said that while the initial shooting technique was simple, lining up and editing the different videos proved more difficult.
The finished short film came out as a proof for the principle of mentalism. Sliding through the contrasting and inspiring studios as lively spaces in constant use by the respective artists felt refreshing and very comforting to me. It symbolizes the connection of all individuals being part of a universal infinite, living mind, in which you don’t necessarily need to check in physically.
To see more of AKUT’s quarantine activities, follow him on Instagram. You also might want to check out this socially distant performance and another global initiative to bring artists together. (via Street Art News)
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Since being quarantined inside her home in Buenos Aires, Lucía Morón has struggled with insomnia. “I have not been sleeping well and there are even days when I cannot seem to find the energy to get out of bed,” she says. As a way to manage her difficult moments, Morón has been documenting her uneasiness. “Photographing helps me to externalize and exorcise my inner fears, nightmares, and anxieties,” she says. “It has become a way of escape in which to express myself during (these) hard and lonely times.”
Morón’s joined more than 400 other womxn with similar practices on a collaborative project that’s helping to capture the mundane, monotonous, and worrisome moments in their lives. Organized by photographers Charlotte Schmitz and Hannah Yoon, The Journal is an extension of Women Photograph, which is an initiative led by Daniella Zalcman to elevate visual journalists who identify as non-binary or women.
While many photographs during the last few weeks have focused on hospitals, essential supplies, and frontline workers, The Journal retreats from the traumatic coverage in favor of intimacy. “Our collective photo project brings nuance to the way the current pandemic is being covered as we turn the camera on ourselves, our families, and the private space,” organizers said. It encompasses work from womxn in more than 80 countries and ensures that marginalized voices have a platform as freelance and media budgets are slashed globally.
Morón’s image (shown below) is black and white and depicts a single arm and leg at the left edge of the frame. It corresponds to her feelings of being “‘submerged’ in bed. As if I was trapped or being ‘eaten’ by my own bed,” she says. The puffy sheets resemble a dreamy, floating cloud, linking the image more directly to her insomnia.
While Morón has pivoted inward as a way to cope with her private emotions and feelings, though, other participants describe an experience that centers on their subject matter. For photojournalist Nyimas Laula, turning the camera to herself poses many difficulties because she typically focuses on others’ stories, not her own.
As a photojournalist, the biggest part of my job is listening to people that I’ll be photographing. My work has always been speaking about others, whether it’s addressing issues that I deeply care about or extension of voices from people that yet to be heard. In this isolation, I’m pushed to point the camera to myself, no one to ask, no one to speak to, other than myself. I constrain myself to this voluntary isolation out of responsibility to help contain the spread of the virus. I find myself deeply disoriented by that.
Now confined to her home in Indonesia, Laula has been capturing her surroundings and otherwise private life. She talks about an inner impulse she feels guiding her. “I’ve been photographing things around me, out of intuition, without any particular reason or stories. As if I’m trying to describe the complexity of feelings that I experience during isolation,” she says. “This time, I’m listening to myself, rediscovering myself. It might tell something about myself that I didn’t know before.”
Each week, The Journal’s curators announce a theme like nature, connection, or self-portrait that 8-10 participants from different countries work on together. Some shoot the images, while others provide creative guidance or edit. “As these relationships form, we can see important visual stories emerging, bringing representation to women and their stories from all over the world,” organizers said. Photographers are separated into intentionally diverse groups to ensure a variety of perspectives.
As the project continues, Morón hopes to direct conversations around the ongoing pandemic to new spaces. “We can find a certain relief from this difficult situation by changing its images. It’s like a trap. I think that many people will feel identified with our stories of quarantine,” she writes.
To see the growing collection of global dispatches, follow The Journal on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Street Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.