Thursday, January 11, 2024

Participate in a Long Covid Awareness Project!

I'm looking for self-contributed photos of people who have or have had Long-Covid. 
I live with Long-Covid myself, and am currently working on a Long-Covid art piece, which will be performed and displayed at the Art Vancouver fair in April, 2024, and likely more places, after that. The piece will be part of my (dis)robe series, and titled Hospital Gown. It will be a wearable art piece made of a hospital gown and hospital blanket, and including a train Long-Covid symptoms and research findings over a gown of the faces of Long-Covid! I will need at least a few hundred faces of the millions currently affected in order to make a solid statement. The purpose here is to increase visibility for this issue, as well as for the many who are affected. Hopefully through awareness we'll also get more research.
Edited to add: The 200+ people who have already sent their selfies for this project have humbled me. I've had personal conversations with over a hundred of them; have shared stories of symptoms, of ups and downs and hopes and despair. We've talked about some of the things that are helping us persevere, and of who we were before all this. The images I'm collecting cover a range of experience from pre-covid wellness to the depths of illness. There are masked, gowned and tubed people, and smiling faces in work and athletic gear. This experience has been personally very motivating for me. It's easy when, like me, we've been sick for 4+ years, to forget our humanity and to accept the social perception that we're just a bunch of sick people. This project is reminding me that before this we were active contributing members of society. We want that back. This is why raising awareness matters.
Current concept drawing for (dis)robe: Hospital Gown, Jan 25, 2024

In April 2023 the National Library of Medicine published that "at least 65 million individuals worldwide are estimated to have long COVID, with cases increasing daily." This gown will be a part of sharing that story with the public.

Huge gratitude for these first 72 faces that will become a part of the upcoming project! I now have nearly 200 contributed faces, and hope to finish with 300.

Just send me a photo of your face--any photo you like (although face must be visible). That's it!
You can Instagram DM @emilyvanartist or send in an email to emilyvanartist at gmail dot com.
Yes it will be anonymous! Even if I see your name when you send me the photo, it will be printed without a name and added anonymously to the gown.
I would also very much appreciate this post being shared, as I hope to get at least a few hundred photos on this art-piece. Thank you!

New Year New Projects!

WOW it's been a year!!!
If you follow this blog or my Instagram feed, you already know I was lucky enough to install three shows this year, all with the gracious help of my partner Markus, and one with my first project grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. I also hold enormous gratitude for the Hearth Gallery and the Gibsons Public Art Gallery for hosting these shows, and to the huge number of supporters I'm beginning to realize I have for not only showing up at the openings and to take in the shows, but also for buying quite a few of my paintings to bring home. Because of this support I was able to donate over $1400 this year to support the Bowen Island Conservancy, an organization that works hard to advocate for and preserve wilderness around my home. It feels humbling, in the way my wedding did, nearly 25 years ago now, when I looked out of the window and saw the guests gathering, and realized that these people cared about me. It's very deeply personal, and in the case of my art, it means I'm able to make an impact in protecting and educating about the things that are important to me. And this is huge.

In my studio working on paintings about the Shuswap fires.

As I sit here contemplating the year, the things that stand out are even more personal. My kids moved out last January and are now paying their own way in the city, some friends lost their homes in the raging wildfires we had this year, we lost a few loved ones both in my family and the community, and I'm FINALLY beginning to recover some of my ability after 3.5 years of living with long covid. Interesting, because 3.5 also happens to be the number of MILLIONS of Canadians who have or have had long covid, as of StatsCan's December 2024 publication.

So this leads to my next project: Hospital Gown.
This wearable art piece will be part of the (dis)robe series, and will be made from donated used hospital gowns and blanket, along with an ever-growing collection of photos of Canadians currently living with long-covid. Again I am humbled by so many people putting their trust in me as an artist to bring their faces into the wider community. The gown is barely started, but has already been invited to the Art Vancouver fair in April. I'll wear it to the opening event, there, whereafter it will be displayed along with other gowns from the collection. I still encounter quite a bit of misinformation and disbelief about long-covid, especially because those of us with autoimmune disease are so invisible. Either we're hidden away with our illness or we're out in public trying our damndest to look healthy. So it means a lot to me to have this opportunity to bring the faces of so many invisible sufferers out into the world.