Resist COVID / Take 6! is an artist-driven public awareness campaign by internationally renowned artist and Portland native Carrie Mae Weems. Launched in April 2020, the national campaign seeks to draw attention to the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Black, Latinx and Native American communities. The title Take 6! is an allusion to the recommended six feet of separation in social distancing.
To support this public art project, the Portland Art Museum is working with partners across the Metro area to use billboards, social media, banners, posters, and other messaging systems to highlight the disparity caused by existing inequalities, to underscore the importance of preventive and protective measures, and to thank the frontline workers risking their safety during this public health crisis. Billboards in East Portland and East Multnomah County will appear in December and January; a presentation on the exterior of the Portland Art Museum and NW Film Center buildings will run in January and February.
“We’ve all been impacted by COVID-19. It’s an ecological health crisis of epic proportion—an international disaster. And yet we have indisputable evidence that people of color have been disproportionately impacted. The death tolls in these communities are staggering. This fact affords the nation an unprecedented opportunity to address the impact of social and economic inequality in real-time. Denial does not solve a problem.”
—Carrie Mae Weems
Carrie Mae Weems is an internationally renowned artist who uses a range of mediums—including photography, video, digital imagery, text, fabric and more—to explore intersecting themes of sexism, class, race, family and community, and the consequences of power. The artist has a deep connection to the Portland Art Museum; the Museum has mounted two important surveys of her work, in 1994 and 2013, and Weems recently joined the Museum’s Board of Trustees.
Weems’ artistic practice, with its insistence on both technical achievement and radical empathy, creates space for community dialogue and catalytic social engagement.
“My responsibility as an artist,” Weems writes, “is to work, to sing for my supper, to make art, beautiful and powerful, that adds and reveals; to beautify the mess of a messy world, to heal the sick and feed the helpless; to shout bravely from the roof-tops and storm barricaded doors and voice the specifics of our historic moment.”
Resist COVID / Take 6! is led by Carrie Mae Weems’s project Social Studies 101, in association with Pierre Loving, and THE OFFICE performing arts + film. The Portland Art Museum exhibition is organized by Sara Krajewski, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art.
Presenting community partners include Portland Bureau of Transportation, Multnomah County Public Health Division, and The Numberz.fm. The campaign is sponsored by Boeing, Spencer Noecker and Cambria Benson Noecker, Dan Bergsvik and Don Hastler, Madden Industrial Craftsman, and Jim and Susan Winkler. Additional support provided by the Miller Meigs Endowment for Contemporary Art.