MAPC Teams Up with Artists on COVID Communications
For immediate release: Friday, March 26, 2021
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) will work with artists to reach underserved communities with COVID-related public health messages, including the importance of getting vaccinated.
Over the next few months, nine artists and artist teams will create posters, videos, postcards, public art, comic strips and other accessible artworks that can be used by health agencies, municipalities and community groups to spread the word about COVID-related public health advice.
As vaccination eligibility expands, communities will face new challenges related to the equitable deployment of effective, simple and evidence-based information. To meet this need, in February, MAPC invited artists, designers and creatives to pitch concepts to inspire safe and healthy behaviors.
Over 30 artists and artist teams applied for grants. Of these, MAPC and an advisory committee of local public health, public art and community representatives chose nine to distribute $45,000 in grant funding among. Priority was given to projects that engage diverse ethnic, cultural and BIPOC communities, and many of the completed projects will be available in multiple languages.
Once completed, MAPC will make the artworks available for digital download and sharing.
“Readily-available vaccine communication resources are not always resonating with communities of color that have been treated unjustly by medical systems,” said MAPC Arts and Culture Director Jennifer Sien Erickson. “Many materials also aren’t designed to reach communities speaking languages other than English. We are excited to partner with this diverse team of local artists to promote equity in community access to the vaccines.”
Selected artists and artist teams were:
The Chinatown Project, a group of creative individuals dedicated to creating a digital archive of Boston Chinatown. Their mission is to preserve Boston Chinatown’s culture, using videography and photography to capture and tell the stories of its business owners. Lead applicant Aubrey Tang is one of the founders. Learn more: https://www.instagram.com/chinatown.project
“COVID-19 has severely impacted Boston Chinatown,” said Tang. “In this past year, these businesses have worked extremely hard to keep themselves afloat while protecting themselves and their customers from COVID-19. The Chinatown Project plans to highlight these businesses and business owners, while also educating the public on the importance of following COVID-19 safety protocols.”
Rachel Domond, a self-taught Haitian artist based in Roxbury, Mass. Her art explores themes of land, sovereignty and pride in home, drawing from the revolutionary and traditional cultural motives of peoples’ movements both in the U.S. and abroad, past and present. Learn more: https://racheldomond.weebly.com/
Elevated Thought, an art and social justice organization based in Lawrence, Mass. The organization develops spaces for BIPOC youth and communities to engage with art. Lead applicant Alex J. Brien is the organization’s production director. Learn more: www.elevatedthought.org
“We feel art has a responsibility to contribute to the awareness and science through this pandemic as we move toward reopening more public spaces,” said Brien. “As marginalized communities have been hit the hardest during this past year, we hope to provide vaccination education, while also creatively uplifting the city of Lawrence.”
Chelvanaya Gabriel, a multimedia art activist/storyteller and resilience facilitator based in Western Massachusetts. From poetry to paintings and murals, their work asks, “Whose story isn’t being told?” Learn more: http://chelvanaya.com
"Art heals and communicates powerfully,” said Gabriel. “I will hold Creative Resilience COVID-19 story circles with Holyoke's Puerto Rican/Afro-Caribbean communities and incorporate residents’ own words into designs representing our hopes for the COVID-19 vaccines, especially the relief that one feels when a loved one, who is vulnerable and far away, is finally vaccinated."
The Greater Boston Artist Collective, an arts organization whose mission is to uplift voiceless artists and to provide a platform for all communities and cultures to share their stories. The Collective includes Gisell Builes, Karen Elisa Garcia, Jennifer Medrano and Samantha Valletta. Learn more: www.greaterbostonartistcollective.com
“Art has always had the power to help heal, especially during these trying times,” said Valletta. “Using the power of film and multimedia, GBAC looks forward to creating a piece dedicated to the communities hit hardest by the virus. Our goal is to encourage everyone to come together for this last push, allowing us all to come out on the other side safer, refreshed and renewed.”
Lillian Lee, a Boston-based cartoonist and illustrator whose work explores and celebrates her Chinese-American life. Her comic strip appears in Sampan Newspaper. Learn more: https://emptybamboogirl.com
“There’s so much information about COVID vaccinations — and it’s fast changing, too,” said Lee. “I’m excited to create art for this important public health initiative that will reach underserved communities.”
Shaina Lu, a queer Taiwanese-American artist interested in the intersection of art, education, and activism. Learn more: http://shainadoesart.com/
Krina Patel, a Boston-based educator and socially-engaged artist. Her practice includes community art projects and studio work integrating traditional media with digital tools. www.quietelephantpress.com
"Getting vaccinated is essential to ending this pandemic,” said Patel. “I plan to use this opportunity to spread that message in ways that resonate with different groups, using the voices of trusted community leaders.”
Tran Vu, a Vietnamese American interdisciplinary and transnational artist whose socially engaged work draws from her experience as a community organizer, educator and healer. Learn more: https://tranvuarts.com
“I’m excited to be a part of this critical work to create socially engaged art that speaks directly to BIPOC communities about public health during these urgent times,” said Vu.