When the pandemic first hit, a collective of artists partnered with Mural Arts Philadelphia to rapidly respond to the world’s changes. One specific space-pad project was designed to uplift spirits while tending the pandemic dangers. It encouraged people to stay 6 feet away from others to reduce the probability of spreading coronavirus. Grocery store lines and folx waiting outside of public resource centers adhered to the social distancing rules while acknowledging the artwork as these space-pads were strategically placed six feet apart.
Public artwork reminds us of our connection to one another through a communal viewing experience. Because the work is shared, people typically encounter it within others’ presence, which influences the viewing experience. In a moment where so many of our ideas about how we occupy the world are being confronted and destabilized, I feel honored to attempt to inform someone’s perspective in a positive way through my work. I hope that this particular project reminds those that encounter it that it’s a blessing to be alive.
The way we consume art—publicly and in others’ presence—is a process of producing objective knowledge. Artists, then, serve as inadvertent teachers with the ability to breach and bridge barriers. In this case, public art becomes a meta-practice of the very thing it facilitates.
The Covid-era has demanded so much from all of us. Still, I am proud that my output with visual art is a communication mode that fosters relationships between the personal and the public, thus indicating that we cannot envisage ourselves as wholly separate from one another.
Imagine being in line and stepping up to one of the space-pads. When you look down, you notice artwork with an uplifting message on it, thus illustrating how vital art can be as a tool to effectively communicate even in the toughest of times.