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Pandemic Artist Lab Call to Artists




Pandemic Artist Lab

A four week, virtual/online lab in June 2020 with Tulane University Special Collections

Deadline: 24 May 2020

Kasini House’s Art Meets History Initiative and Kolaj Institute announce the Call to Artists for the Pandemic Artist Lab, four weeks of workshops and discussions designed to foster the integration of history and contemporary art into an artist’s practice and to develop artwork that speaks to the effect of COVID-19 on society.

How we understand history takes shape as we live it. COVID-19 and the measures taken to control the pandemic have caused a historic rupture in civilization, the pause of economies, and personal hardships that range from mild inconvenience to financial devastation and death. The dominant visual imagery of the pandemic has been empty streets, closed businesses, press conferences, face masks, and scientific renderings of the coronavirus. These images do not tell the full story of the pandemic: isolation, resilience, system failure, vulnerability, community response and care, joy in the face of crisis.

The goal of the Artist Lab is to equip artists with tools and strategies for picking up the unfinished work of history and speak to contemporary civic discourse around social, economic, and environmental issues. Through interactive online sessions, collections research, and one-on-one visits with historians, archivists, and curators, artists will explore their process and practice; present a slideshow of their work; receive supportive, critical, curatorial feedback about their ideas; and discuss strategies for making art that speaks to the contemporary moment.

The Artist Lab will unfold over the course of four weeks during which artists will participate in online meetings, engage in one-on-one sessions with faculty, and complete independent assignments. Sessions will be one hour to an hour and a half long and include slideshows, artist presentations, and discussions. Guest artists will share their practice and lead discussions. Specialists will introduce participants to special collections and archives and speak to the history of pandemics and their impact on culture.

Open to all artists, the lab includes three special tracks. These are special sessions, open to all participants, where we address concerns unique to a medium. The tracks are:

Collage Artists

Designed with collage artists in mind, this track considers how collagists use popular material culture in their work. The Lab will speak to issues of appropriation, copyright, and fair use and explore how the artist’s choice and understanding of material shapes the narrative of the artwork. Artists will explore how collage has a unique ability to combine historical and contemporary material.


This track addresses unique issues relating to photography, such as the difference between documentary and creative work; the use of film, digital, and hybrid processes; and strategies for investigating a place with limited time and under varying conditions. Photographers will be challenged to make work within their own homes or communities and explore how to use the best of 180 years of photographic technology and blend it with the site and subject to find new ways of telling stories. The role of photography in contemporary art is an underlying theme.

General Art Practice

With an emphasis on process, this track focuses on how artists can bring historical material into their work. Discussions will explore how mark making becomes a visual language and how storytelling can compliment abstraction and create a window for the viewer to more deeply engage.

Artists will complete the Lab with a project proposal for an exhibition, project, or a book and a sample work that will be exhibited in a virtual exhibition at Kasini House. Proposals will be shared with our network of institutional partners for their consideration. The projects will be included in a forthcoming book about how artists are using history to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Artist Lab is intended for self-motivated artists, regardless of the stage in their career, who want to develop a practice of working with historic sites or history associations to create and present art that embeds itself in non-traditional spaces and speaks to a general community about contemporary issues.


Entry Fee:

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