Carrie Mae Weems’ Resist COVID: Take Six Campaign on View at Nasher Museum

Don’t Worry, We’ll Hold Hands Again is a hopeful sentiment that has been stated and felt many times during the COVID-19 global pandemic. In fact, you may come across a large billboard or banner with these words in a city or town near you. In a black and white photograph, there is a small group of people holding hands as they stand together while facing the camera. Underneath their photo, you can read the aforementioned promise in bold text alongside a directive in red that reads, “Resist COVID / Take 6!” 

A RESIST COVID / TAKE 6! banner at the Nasher Museum. Courtesy of Carrie Mae Weems. Photo by Robert Zimmerman.

This image is one of many visual messages that is a part of a national public awareness campaign by artist and MacArthur Genius award winner Carrie Mae Weems. The campaign, Resist COVID: Take Six consists of large billboards, banners, and posters with messaging that seeks to enlighten and educate communities about the disproportionate impact of the virus on the lives of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.  In a statement released by Weems about the intention behind her campaign, she wrote, “We have indisputable evidence that people of colour have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. The death toll in these communities is staggering. This fact affords the nation an unprecedented opportunity to address the impact of social and economic inequality in real time.” 

Posters from Resist Covid / Take 6! are on view at Golden Belt in Durham, NC. Courtesy of Carrie Mae Weems.
Resist Covid / Take 6! street pole banner lining Campus Drive connecting Duke’s east and west campuses. Courtesy of Carrie Mae Weems. Photo by Wendy Hower.

As a result, Resist COVID: Take Six is just as much of an art exhibition as a public health campaign. Other messaging presented in the campaign includes important calls to action such as “Stop the Spread: MASK-UP, BACK-UP, WASH-UP.” There are also images that express gratitude to all of the frontline workers that risk their lives daily while working in this pandemic. 

A RESIST COVID / TAKE 6! banner on the Nasher Museum faces a pair of RESIST COVID / TAKE 6! street pole banners on Anderson Street. Courtesy of Carrie Mae Weems. Photo by J Caldwell.

Over the last few months, Weems partnered with art institutions across the country to bring forth this mixed media public art campaign to communities, including the city of Durham. The campaign is currently on view at Duke University, co-sponsored by Nasher Museum and Duke Arts. It is an outdoor exhibition that takes the route of Campus Drive throughout Duke’s campus so visitors can experience the artwork in person safely by car or on foot. To see it in person, head to the Nasher Museum at Duke University now through January. Here is an interactive map to see the images. Wear your masks and maintain your distance, of course. More information about the exhibition, Resist COVID-19: Take 6 can be found here.

 

Please enjoy a poem submitted by Beautiful Community member Elisabeth Michel. Perhaps it will inspire you to take up your pen. In fact, Elisabeth also shares a couple of writing prompts to help.


Today, I will write.

I do not consider myself a poet.

But I think of the voices now silent,

And I remember the writers.

The dancers.

The chefs.

The travelers.

Musicians.

Scientists.

Artists.

All the ones who could. Whose individual songs rang with power, even when soft. Whose perspectives helped us see parts of life and truth that we would have otherwise missed.

The ones who, in pursuit of their purpose, shaped the world around us.

They may, at one point, have thought they couldn’t.

Yet they blessed us when they did.

So today I write.


Writing Prompts:

1. What’s something that made you smile this week?

2. For the next two minutes, write down all the activities you engaged in today, in reverse order. (Start with now, and then write what you did before this moment, what you did before that moment, etc.). Go as far as you can in 2 minutes. After the two minutes are up, review the list and see which activity/moment in your day thus far has the strongest emotions attached to it. What was that moment, and what are you feeling?

Note from Elisabeth: “A professor gave me this writing exercise in college, and I love it to this day.”

If you feel comfortable, feel free to share your answers from the writing prompts above in the comments.

Elisabeth Michel is a health equity advocate passionate about seeing a world where everyone has the opportunity to reach their maximum potential. Currently living in Michigan, Elisabeth enjoys photography, improv, playing the piano – and when spring and summer finally overtake the Michigan winters, she loves to lounge outdoors in the grass with a good book.

Photo by Kaci Kennedy

 

Two weeks ago, we had the great pleasure of partnering with Carolina Performing Arts in a creative workshop that explored identity and belonging through the powerful work of Carrie Mae Weems.

Using The Kitchen Table Series as an inspirational tool, we led the workshop participants in a reflective journey to think about the tables or structures in their lives that that have been instrumental in shaping their identities and beliefs. Through conversations, writings and illustrations, participants were able to share how these metaphorical tables affirmed, challenged, and shaped who they are today.

 


After the workshop, we attended Ms. Weems’ lecture, Past Tense, which was a multimedia meditation on culture, power, and identity, fitting perfectly with the theme of our pre-performance workshop. Many thanks to our collective members who came out to participate and support this workshop. We’re grateful for Carolina Performing Arts for the opportunity to bring the work that we do to a wider audience. And we want to send a huge thank you to Carrie Mae Weems for gracing us with her presence, brilliance, and artistry.

Iconic American photographer Carrie Mae Weems comes to University of Carolina-Chapel Hill on Wednesday, April 10 to present Past Tense, a striking lecture-style performance in which she examines the right to justice and peace through the lens of the classic play Antigone. Accompanied by startling imagery projected onscreen behind her, Weems explores themes of social justice, escalating violence, gender relations, politics, and personal identity within the context of contemporary history—recurrent subjects in her practice as a visual artist. Learn more about the performance and the artist’s motivation for creating this work.

We are excited and honored to partner with Carolina Performing Arts in a pre-performance workshop event before Carrie Mae Weems’ performance of Past Tense. Join us as we explore the impact of Weems’ art and celebrate the revolutionary power of words and images.

Our creative workshop, free and open to the public, will take place on April 10th at 6:00pm at Gerrard Hall, which is located right next door to UNC’s Memorial Hall. Also, friends of TBP who plan to attend Weems’ performance (and you should!) can receive discounted tickets ($15) by using our promo code:

TBPFRIEND can be redeemed online, by phone (919.843.3333), or in person at the CPA Box Office at Memorial Hall (M-F, 10 AM-5 PM). To redeem online: Select desired date on performance page. On next page, you must enter the code in the top right corner of the page before selecting desired number of tickets for the code to work properly.

Creative Workshop
April 10, 6pm
UNC’s Gerrard Hall
226-234 E Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
https://www.facebook.com/events/305596270119342/

Past Tense
April 10, 7:30pm
UNC’s Memorial Hall
114 E Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
carolinaperformingarts.org/pasttense

She’s a wonder to us.  She’s heroic, bold, and manages to meld both simplicity and depth in her thought provoking images.  Take a look at this article discussing her work and exhibit at The Guggenheim last month.  Some how, many don’t know this wonder of a woman but to us, she is a hero and we herald her every chance we get.  She’s featured as an honoree on BET Honors Monday night at 9p/8c.  Don’t miss it!

 

Photo Credit:  Carrie Mae Weems