The City of Louisville has been notably impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic as it navigates a new normal while social unrest prevails throughout the city following the unjust murders of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee. Art in the Time of COVID-19 is a digital art exhibition that details the personal experiences of three Louisville-based artists throughout the period of civil unrest during quarantine in the Coronavirus pandemic. This digital exhibition seeks to demonstrate the strength and resiliency of the Louisville community during these unprecedented times.

Portland Museum and the artists involved in the digital exhibition Art in the Time of COVID-19 had the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by Keith Waits from Louisville Visual Arts. The interview takes place in the form of a podcast. Check out the recording here.

Rachel Singel

“One of my most [recent] etchings, “Flor De Maga,” features a flower that is isolated, separated from its leaves, its stem, and its roots. It embodies my “new normal” [of] working alone in my studio, disconnected from others… One of my goals as an artist is to capture the detail of natural forms, and now I have more time to do so. While the efforts to contain COVID-19 do feel intensely isolating, the etchings I am now making I would likely not have had the opportunity to create prior to this period.”

Aloe Vera, Intaglio, 9 x 12″ (2020)
Flor De Maga, Intaglio, 22 x 30″ (2020)
Mussels, Intaglio, 9 x 20″ (2020)
Shells, Intaglio, 9 x 20″ (2020)
Stones, Intaglio, 9 x 20″ (2020)

Click here to read our interview with Rachel Singel.

Jeribai Andrew-Jaja

“[In] August 2018, I visited the dermatologist after I was concerned about a few light spots … on my face. My self-diagnosis was driving me crazy, so I was so eager to meet the dermatologist. [The dermatologist] looked at the spots and said “honey, you have Vitiligo. You have nothing to worry about though… It is auto-immune, but not life threatening.”

“I was devastated … Research says Vitiligo happens to 1 out of 200,000 people and I kept asking [myself] “why am I that 1?” I took a trip to Walmart, and for the first time I walked in the makeup aisle looking for a [shade of] foundation [to match] my skin tone. Wearing makeup to cover every spot on my face became [part of my normal] morning routine.

“In March 2020, after a few months of working remotely, I became so relaxed with my skin and was not [as] concerned about [my] morning makeup [routine]. Later, I was scheduled to go to the office for training. That day, I completely forgot to put on makeup [and] realized I was already [in the office] parking lot. It took so much courage to walk into the [building]. I chose my authentic self that day and said, “if I survive today then I would survive every other day.” I spent the next 2 weeks at the office choosing no makeup and felt so great about myself, even though my insecurities kept kicking in.

“This pandemic season made me enjoy looking at every spot [on my skin]… I found strength and a purpose bigger than me in this condition of mine. It became a blessing in disguise [as] I concentrated my mental energy toward creating a visual representation of my melanin journey. I chose to tell my story and accept [my] beautiful lighter spots as I refer to them as golden trails. I [have] created a hyper-realistic self portrait to capture my soul and emotions together with … the spots that make me unique to document my stages of metamorphosis. My superpower is in my identity…

“Spending over 170 hours drawing every pore and … hair on my face created a [new] intimate connection with the very core of my being. I completed [this work] on July 15th, 2020 – the day I turned 27 years old. This was one of my major pandemic experiences. The pandemic caused me to search myself and pour out my emotions on paper in my form of expression. The other purpose of this art piece is to encourage everyone that struggles with a form of insecurity to accept and love themselves the way that they are … You are enough. I know these spots will keep spreading and evolving, and there might be no end to this change, but I gracefully accept it – thus the title Black Metamorphosis, My Melanin Journey.”

Black Metamorphosis, My Melanin Journey, Pen & Ink (July 15, 2020)
Black Metamorphosis, My Melanin Journey (detail)
Black Metamorphosis, My Melanin Journey (detail)
Black Metamorphosis, My Melanin Journey (detail)
Black Metamorphosis, My Melanin Journey (detail)

Click here to read our interview with Jeribai Andrew-Jaja

Erica Lewis, My Quarantine

“My Quarantine records my personal “new normal,” as I have documented all these photos with my iPhone to spontaneously capture moments as they occur. While I usually try to depict the poetry of little moments, with this series, I have primarily leaned into the awkward, yet heavy reality of the now. By formatting the work to be monochromatic, I assert my current situation within history by referencing historic processes, and I reiterate a connection between the public and the private shared experiences of a certain time. This growing body of work has served as a catharsis, a release of expression and of voice, in the blatant void of regular socialization.

A Heavy Reprieve (May 29, 2020)
Anthropocene (June 15, 2020)
Anxiety (March 18, 2020) (June 1, 2020)
Brook & Hill (July 5, 2020)
Dramatic Irony (May 4, 2020)
Hoard (March 17, 2020)
Magnolia & 7th (July 6, 2020)
New Normal (July 4, 2020)
Performative Effort (July 10, 2020)
Quarantine with Me (April 20, 2020)
Sunday Dinner (April 3, 2020)
Until Inconvenienced (May 23, 2020)
Untitled, BLM Protest (May 28, 2020)
Untitled, BLM Protest (May 29, 2020)
Untitled, BLM Protest (May 29, 2020)
Untitled, BLM Protest (May 29, 2020)

Click here to read our interview with Erica Lewis.