BENNINGTON — Joining with museums across the country, Bennington Museum and Bennington College’s Usdan Gallery are taking part in RESIST COVID | TAKE 6!, a national public awareness campaign by renowned artist Carrie Mae Weems meant to make the general public aware of staggering death toll of COVID-19 and its negative impact, particularly on people of color.
The campaign uses billboards, alternative messaging, public art projects, and other creative means to underscore the importance of social distancing (TAKE 6! refers to the recommended 6 feet of separation), encourage public discussion, dispel the myths and dangers of false cures associated with the virus, and thank front-line and essential workers.
“We are absolutely delighted to be sharing Carrie Mae Weems’ poignant, engaged work with our community, with its message of hope, resilience, and thanks,” says Bennington Museum curator Jaime Franklin.
“During this time of pandemic when museums are working hard to engage our communities in new ways that are safe and relevant to the moment, I can’t think of anything better than this outdoor, public facing community awareness project, featuring the work of one our country’s greatest artists,” Franklin said.
On Friday, a large-scale banner was installed on the Bennington Museum’s facade, yard signs were installed under the elm tree, and a large poster was added to the kiosk at the Four Corners downtown. A banner has been installed at Bennington College’s VAPA as well.
Many other regional campaign activities are taking place over the next six months as part of a collaboration among ArtCountry partners which, in addition to Bennington Museum, includes the Usdan Gallery at Bennington College, WCMA, the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, the Clark Art Institute, MASS MoCA, the Town of Williamstown, and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Most of these installations which feature Weems’ photography and text can be viewed from the comfort of your car, or via safe walks in highly visible public areas of downtown Bennington; Williamstown, Mass.; and North Adams, Mass.
“Our project is meant to be a public service awareness campaign that in some small way helps to save lives, as a constant reminder of what needs to be done as we push through this pandemic and its extraordinary effect on us,” Weems said in a statement.
“We needed lawn signs; we needed posters to go into business windows; we used newspaper advertising circulars to deliver messaging directly into the home; we used grocery bags, shopping bags, paper and reusable bags that we could give to food banks and pantries — because we know that with the unemployment crisis this really hit in some of the poorest communities across the nation, where food lines are miles long. And inside the bags would be all kinds of material that could be used and serve as a constant reminder that this is serious, this is not a hoax, this is deadly real,” Weems said.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, the COVID-19 death rate among Black and Hispanic Americans is 2.8 times higher than that for white Americans.
To learn more about RESIST COVID | TAKE 6!, visit https://resistcovidtake6.org/.