The DART Board: 04.02.2020

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday April 2, 2020

Moments ago, as I was going for a second cup of Joe, ArtNet News posted a report on the very creepy and compelling illustration of the virus that causes Covid-19. Commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it has become the unmistakable image of the novel coronavirus. And it is a case study in how artists can, in giving things a visual form, help make the terrifying world around us feel more comprehensible. Above:  Illustration created at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by staff artists Alissa Eckert, MS and Dan Higgins, MAMS

As the New York Times  reports today, the picture of the coronavirus is—quite literally—a work of art. It was created by Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins, medical illustrators and “biomedical artists” at the CDC. They were tasked with making the so-called “beauty shot” image of the virus—a solo close-up—that would serve in public awareness campaigns, “bringing the unseeable into view."

The spines in the picture—the “corona” in coronavirus—are rendered fire engine red to label them as especially important: this particular virus is distinguished by spines that are 10 to 20 times more
 likely to bind to human cells than previous such viruses, which is what makes it particularly dangerous.

For its part, the CDC image combines two ideas very effectively: it renders the virus as something scary, unnerving, and present that you have to take seriously; but it also conveys lucidity—that this thing is being mapped and figured out. It manages to thread the needle between the sobering “you need to pay attention” and the reassuring “we will help you understand this.” 

The burning issue of the day—for the as-of-now-uninfected—has to be: To mask or not to mask. Leadership on this subject, from the top down, has so far been erratic if not abysmal. While that might change in the next 24 hours, for now I will stay with this: If wearing a mask prevents me from touching my face—which it absolutely does—I will wear a mask when I leave my apartment.

But masks of any kind—from N94 respirator masks to flimsy surgical masks—are completely out of supply. Today, however, information on how to make your own came from Amy Wilson, a Jersey City artist who teaches Fiber Arts and Drawing at School of Visual Arts, and a is a self-described “political crafts” activist. In a segment on the Brian Lehrer Show [WNYC] she ran through her methods and materials, offering listeners much of what they would need to get on with it. If you’re not sure how to proceed, don’t feel bad. Covid-19 is so new that little is still known about how it is spread. Ms. Wilson concluded, “We are making this up as we go along.” For now I will begin making my own masks when my supply runs out. 

Additionally, the team of textile conservators at The Met have come up with a mask making page, complete with a measured pattern, above. Info

“So far, the bears seem to have been respectful of the art,” a spokesperson for the Dia Art Foundation said

As the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic becomes more ingrained,  I was ready for a blast of lightness. And it came just in time, on Wednesday, as the best April Fool’s Day hoax landed in my inbox. Hakim Bishara, writing for Hyperallergic, posted a report so measured and balanced as to be almost convincing, about a Black Bear takeover at Dia Beacon. If you need a lift, have a look here 

Drawing by subscriber Carol Fabricatore, via Invisible Dog live online figure drawing

In addition to the online #Dynamicfiguredrawing hosted by Invisible Dog Art Center and reported in DART last Friday, many online group drawing programs have sprung up—including one in LA that has been around, live, for quite a while. So if model drawing is not for you, LA artists Anna Breininger and Kristin Cammermeyer, offer still life drawing online, Sundays from noon to 2pm. Two years ago they began hosting still life drawing sessions with other artists. “In a climate in which we are inundated with information and over-scheduled, we thought it imperative to create a space to decompress from our anxieties,” Breininger and Cammermeyer told Hyperallergic over email.

What began as a gathering in an artist studio soon expanded to larger settings, such as the Other Places Art Fair, Spring/Break Art Show, various Los Angeles art galleries, and even a casual session at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park. The two artists call these events Be Still Life Drawing Sessions. Instagram

But if portrait making is your thing, The Morgan Library & Museum has teamed up with The Art Students League of New York for a portrait-making competition!
To enter, create and share a self-portrait or portrait of a friend/companion/significant other/roommate on Instagram, tag @themorganlibrary and @aslnyc, and use the hashtag #MorganPortraits. Get inspired here

This week Design Observer, co-founded by Jessica Helfand and Michael Bierut, launches Design Observer Studio Sessions on Saturday 4 April 10am Pacific | 1pm Eastern | 5pm GMT, Moderated by Hugh Weber, with Christoph Niemann and Daniella Zalcman as guests. Christoph Niemann is Berlin-based illustrator, graphic designer, and children’s book author. His work has appeared on the covers of The New YorkerAtlantic Monthly and the New York Times Magazine. Daniella Zalcman is a documentary photographer based between Paris and New York. A grantee of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, she is also the founder of Women Photograph, an initiative working to elevate the voices of women and non-binary visual journalists.

Also from Hyperallergic this week, the Editors are asking artists to share their experiences of their studios during times of quarantine. They write: please continue to follow the guidelines below, but consider capturing something that has changed in your studio during this time: Are you making new kinds of work? Have you had to adapt your materials in any way? Feel free to reflect on making art during times of quarantine in your paragraph description.

Sandy Kinee, Colorado Springs, Co: This is ample room to work on up to three 15-foot canvases at a time. Currently two paintings are in progress. I have always worked on the flat, having been mainly a printmaker and papermaker for decades. Multiple works in progress let me work on another while one or two more dry.

The open call reads: If you wish to be considered for inclusion in the A View From the Easel series, please send the following information to aviewfromtheeasel [at] hyperallergic [dot] com:

a) A clear photo (600 640 1,280 1,460 pixels wide) of your workspace, not showing a particular work too prominently, but mainly your work area. Wide-angle photographs are often ideal to show the whole workspace.

b) A paragraph describing what we see in the photograph and how it relates to your daily process. Text should not be more than 200 words. You can view past A View From the Easel posts here.


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