During COVID-19, the art world has been faced with uncertainty. However, many artists have been continuing to work and create pieces that reflect their personal experiences and thoughts about these tumultuous times. First, we felt that it was important to curate these local artists into an exhibition that highlights their voices and stories. Second, we wanted to include all submitted materials into our archives. We felt that it was imperative to archive this material, as they create an artistic, abstract, and emotional portrait of how artists in Long Island City are facing 2020. In addition, as born-digital assets have become the norm, especially during COVID-19, it is important to create a space where these works can be securely saved.
Participants for “Artists Navigating 2020” and “In the Artist’s Studio” were mostly artists who either live and/or work in Long Island City.
For our Queens 2020 Time Capsule, we are doing an open call to all residents living and/or working in Long Island City.
We did this project for our local communities in Long Island City that are being affected by COVID-19. As many community members are facing challenges at this time, we wanted to highlight and archive their voices and stories. In doing so, we are able to add their artistic and human representations of these tumultuous times, to the historical record.
We reached out to our participants, through our connections at LIC-A, Culture Lab LIC, Queens Memory, and the Friends Group at Hunters Point. Through these connections, we invited people via an open call. We used these same connections to reach out to prospective visitors.
Our outreach led many LIC-A and Culture Lab members to learn about Queens Memory, and vice versa.
- Oral History
Through our open call, we curated an exhibition for Artists Navigating 2020, via submitted pieces and stories. Submissions took place on Formstack. All pieces that were included in the exhibition were archived via Urban Archive, through Airtable. The Queens Public Library digital archives team used the metadata transferred in the AirTable form to create VRA Core records for each item that will join the library’s collections in the digital asset management system.
The ongoing open call for 2020 Queens Time Capsule will be conducted in a similar fashion.
For “In The Artist’s Studio,” we conducted 3 oral histories that revisited artists who had previously done an interview with Queens Memory in 2018/2019, using Streamyard. These interviews are archived on Aviary. From these same artists, we used 180-360 degree photos of their studios, and created VR tours of their creative spaces with Google Tour Creator. In these VR tours, we highlighted past and current pieces that they had chosen to submit. We will be continuing this part of the exhibition, with more rounds of artists.
All material is available on our virtual exhibition, which is being hosted on LIC-A’s website.
The project launched September 15, 2020 and is ongoing. The following is based on data supplied, as of 9/27-28/2020:
Artists Navigating 2020:
Featured 59 artists / 59 assets uploaded to Urban Archive for digital preservation [more assets will be added]
“In the Artist’s Studio”:
Featured 3 artists, from which we created the following:
- VR Studio Tour, showcasing their creative spaces and highlighting both past and present works
- Hosted a Facebook Live panel with the 3 artists, moderated by Edjo Wheeler
Website : 1627 visits
As a new branch, this project created valuable local partnerships with Culture Lab LIC, LIC-A, Queens Memory
We are pleased with the feedback we have received for this project. Many local artists were interested in participating in this project, and were extremely gracious in letting us feature their stories and pieces. Overall, we are happy that we were able to provide a platform from which we could highlight the local and artistic voices of our community.
From the exhibit, some of the main lessons we learned included:
- Planning is crucial when creating virtual exhibitions
- When accepting artists’ works for archival purposes, we have to ensure that we are giving them the option to include a note that they own the digital copyright of their submission
- When working on a project completely remote, it is imperative to connect with your community through a variety of channels and methods [social media, emails, list-servs, community partners. Etc.]
- It is imperative to test out the platforms and tech you are using, prior to collecting materials
- When conducting remote projects, look into open source software, to assist with editing procedures.
For our exhibition, we are pleased that local community members are given the ability to engage as both participants and as viewers. For future exhibitions, we hope that we can provide more opportunities for community members to not only engage with the exhibit, but to also engage with each other.
This project was co-created by Queens Memory, LIC-A, Culture Lab LIC, and Queens Public Library at Hunters Point, with support from Urban Archive.
The specific individuals on the exhibition’s task force included Norma Homberg [Director of Plaxall Gallery (LIC-A)], Edjo Wheeler [Executive Director of Culture Lab LIC], Natalie Milbrodt [Director of Queens Memory], Jo-Ann Wong [General Librarian at Hunters Point Library], and Eun Young Chang [Community Library Manager at Hunters Point Library].
We received support from:
- Sam Addeo, Urban Archive
- Jon Garfield, LIC-A
- Dacia Metes, Digital Archives Manager at Queens Public Library
- Aimai Reporter, Digital Archivist at Queens Public Library
Subsequent meetings occurred in 2019, to plan for this exhibition series
- Orestes Gonzalez: July 20, 2020
- Kaiser Kamal: July 27, 2020
- Karen Fitzgerald: July 29, 2020
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