| The Ledger
LAKELAND — While some people binge-watched “Tiger King” during the past seven months, others were busy with paints and brushes or their cameras, creating works of art that capture this singular moment in history — life during a pandemic and civil unrest.
“2020 will go down as one of the most extraordinary periods in human history. As a global population, we all experienced a transformative shift in our daily lives and our senses of selves, not to mention our relationships with others,” Alex Rich, executive director and chief curator of the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College, said in a news release.
“With everything that has transpired this year, we felt the imperative to imagine a real-time exhibition that would engage our community and capture for perpetuity its artistic responses to this moment. Artists kept working and kept grappling with the realities they saw all around them throughout the trials of the past year, and the outpouring of submissions speaks to the strength of the arts in even the most trying of times.”
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Rich called for artists to submit work created between March and August for the “Hindsight 2020: Art of This Moment” online exhibition. Rich said they hoped to obtain works from artists of all ages and talents throughout the area. Submissions were encouraged to relate, but were not limited, to the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice, the Black Lives Matter movement, and experiences and feelings of isolation.
More than 230 artists submitted nearly 700 works for consideration, with museum staff whittling that to 85 works for the show.
“Because we received submissions from every county we placed the call for artists to, this exhibition feels like a true representation of what the Central Florida community is feeling,” said Diane Baires, assistant to the PMoA executive director. “It was great to see individuals of all ages, ranging from 6 to 99, express their personal experience creatively.”
One of the works was created using alcohol markers by Evangeline, a 12-year-old Polk County student. Entitled “6 Feet Away,” it represents a return to school during COVID-19, with one girl wearing a sweater with the words “6 FEET AWAY,” while another girl, arms outstretched, wears a sweater that says “HUGS.” Both are wearing face masks.
Several paintings or drawings depict George Floyd, the Black Minneapolis man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Pinellas County artist Nelson Perez used acrylic on canvas to paint “The Hurt is Real,” about demonstrations all over the country following Floyd’s death.
Polk County resident Katy Walters used photography to create a ghost-like image of a woman wearing a face mask in “Unfocused,” while AnaSophie Ruju used oil paints to show the anguish of wearing personal protection equipment in “Quarantine.”
The “Hindsight 2020: Art of This Moment” online exhibition will be available for viewing in perpetuity at https://polkmuseumofart.org/hindsight2020. For any additional questions or information, please contact Taylor Holycross at 863-688-7743 ext. 249 or [email protected]
Ledger reporter Kimberly C. Moore can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7514. Follow her on Twitter at @KMooreTheLedger.