Updated February 2021: In the Time of COVID, an artistic series by Kimberly
In the Time of COVID is a real-time journey through the pandemic of COVID-19, through the lens of a self portrait artist.
When I realized the virus was going to have a real and global impact, I wanted to have a record, something I could look back on, that would remind me of the unfolding events as well as how I was feeling on particular days. I also needed something to help keep me busy and in tune with my art and with myself. I began going to my studio each week to explore, create and document.
At the beginning, I had no idea I would be working on this project for most of the year…. The first image was taken March 22; the final image was shot January 11, 2021.
On June 30, 2020, The Koger Center for the Arts announced its “1593 Project” a call for art to support artists during the corona-virus pandemic. Nearly 60 South Carolina performing and visual artists sent in submissions, including me. My series of photographs was chosen as the winner.
The entire series is 65+ photographic self portraits and still life works focusing on aspects of life during the pandemic such as isolation, altering of routines, search for information, tangible boredom, signals of hope, and desire for normalcy.
Some images are extremely personal, such as the ones that deal with a family member’s cancer diagnosis. Many of the images address shared experiences that spanned the globe.
For example, the still life “7 cm” is very close to my heart: that is the approximate size of the tumor found in and removed from a family member at the beginning the pandemic. The already surreal terrain of cancer diagnosis and treatment was further affected by COVID-19 precautions.
In the self-portrait, “Let Them Wear Masks,” I wanted to give a nod to the very popular Tiger King television series that it seemed everyone was watching and discussing.
I also wanted to ask the question: “If we promise to wear masks, may we go out, please?” A that point in the pandemic, people were seeming to grow weary of binge-watching dubious TV fare, and a surreal ennui set in. Mask requirements were being put into place, and many stir-crazy folks (myself included) seemed more than happy to submit to ordinances requiring mask wearing. I set this image in the parlor of a French aristocrat, to further echo Marie Antoinette's oblivious statement concerning the hunger of the poor: “Let them eat cake.”
Early in the project, I was captivated by the images depicting the enemy: a studded and textured sphere; I wanted to make one for myself, to own and to tame. Thus, the Corona-Virus mini-collection, which includes the image: “In the Time of COVID.” This is a tribute to healthcare workers, including researchers. In this image, a nurse in vintage uniform holds a COVID-19 molecule and gives a blessing of health to onlookers.
The Koger Center exhibition is slated to be displayed in the arts center's upstairs gallery at a later date. For more information on the contest and the exhibition, including a podcast (Session #2 under Arts Roundup) discussing the project and my creative process, see the Koger Center's website: www.kogercenterforthearts.com
These images can be purchased as prints or canvases, and the artists at Studio 3P are available to discuss creating your custom fine art portrait session, as well.