A new exhibition by a Vancouver fine art photographer is shining a light on the amount of waste produced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Global Pandemic by Michelle Leone Huisman will be showcased at The Dal Schindell Gallery from March 2 to April 10. The exhibit features a collection of fine art photography centred around discarded cloth and medical masks collected by the artist.
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“Over the past year, I have (safely) collected only some of the masks that I have seen on the streets and sidewalks. They are everywhere,” said Huisman in an artist statement. “Some are probably ones that people have lost, though I suspect many of them are ones that people have just thrown into the street.
“While discovering more children’s masks on the streets and sidewalks in the spring of 2021, inspiration struck. I found myself contemplating the hopeful, the playful, and rejuvenating side of springtime contrasting against the scourge of this pandemic waste – discarded children’s masks nestled amongst a patch of daisies, a bunch of buttercups, a bed of grass.
“Pairing the darker side of these two pandemics with playful childhood themes, I hope to unveil the collective consciousness that links the health of our planet with the health of our children.”
According to a study cited by the World Economic Forum, 129 billion disposable masks have been used every month during the pandemic. Huisman was inspired to create Global Pandemic to start a conversation around the amount of pandemic-related waste created close to home and around the world.
“With mandatory mask regulations throughout the world continuing to be a vital part of our efforts to fight this global pandemic, how we use and dispose of this piece of personal protective equipment has many consequences for society today, tomorrow, and well into the future,” Huisman’s artist statement continued. “As subsequent waves have persisted, I started to think more critically about two pandemics. The first and more acute is COVID-19. The second, and more insidious, is the waste we’re producing in response.
“What are the lasting impacts of our choices today? How should ecological risks in our health care responses be considered? How will these two pandemics affect our children?”
Global Pandemic‘s artworks are named after children’s nursery rhymes and games and combine the ubiquitous masks with backdrops of natural beauty.
The fine art photographic works are printed using a 19th Century technique called tri-colour gum bichromate over palladium. Each one-of-a-kind image can take up to five days or more to process, but the technique is believed to ensure the quality of the artwork is maintained for over 500 years.
An artist reception is scheduled for March 3 at 6 pm, and there will also be an artist talk on April 7 at 6 pm.
When: March 2 to April 10, 2022
Time: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (Monday to Friday), 12 to 4 pm (Saturdays). Closed Sundays
Where: The Dal Schindell – 5800 University Boulevard, Vancouver
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