Central Michigan University Art Gallery Presents: Pandemic

Story and photos by Kiyanna Johnson

Just after the first week of classes, the Central Michigan University Art Gallery opened their first exhibition titled “Pandemic,” from Jan. 19 through Feb. 13. This exhibit featured various artists around the Mount Pleasant. The theme spoke vibrantly through the flyer as soon as the doors were opened.

“It is happening now. What are artists saying & making about it?”

University Art Gallery poster. Photo by Kiyanna Johnson.

There were numerous artists who spoke out about the pandemic, not only with their pieces, but their statements as well.

Rebecca L. Goulder, an artist of the “Mask Maker’s Project”, wrote that her portraits represented just a few of the people who have given their time, energy and resources to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Home sewn masks were one way to provide protection for communities, essential works, and healthcare workers, while also allowing medical PPE to be directed to where it was needed the most,” Goulder said.

Goulder’s art stood just as direct as her statement. It was presented in a four-by-four column, which showed the separation for the masks, and also the combination of the portraits as a whole.

The color placement with each background is meant to bring out the mask’s design.

The “Mask Maker’s Project.” Photo by Kiyanna Johnson.

Another local artist, Denise Whitebread Fanning, had the opportunity to welcome viewers with a twelve-foot in diameter, Victorian modeled mourning gown.

This “Socially Distanced Mourning Gown”, as she labeled it, was hand-sewn from twelve years’ worth of windblown, lawnmower-shredded, and cast-away graveside flowers she personally collected. It was woven with Fanning’s own hair, and the hair of loved ones to give the dress human attachment. It symbolized “layers of griefs that humans carry” and the mourning of thousands of lives lost due to COVID-19.

The “Socially Distanced Mourning Gown.” Photo by Kiyanna Johnson.

Fanning says this particular artwork went through three life stages and the mourning gown was its final stage. She mentioned she had certain “stoppers” with having a work area being only eight feet and the dress having 40 yards of fabric to work with. However, with the deadline of the show and opportunity to showcase, she persevered and worked diligently to present a statement that was meant for all.