El Camino Art Gallery Presents “Pandemic Response Online Exhibition”

El Camino College Art Gallery is hosting its “Pandemic Response Online Exhibition,” from Aug.15 through Sept. 30, where artists from the South Bay have submitted their COVID-19 pandemic-related artwork.

The exhibition includes a wide selection of mediums, including acrylic and oil paintings, performances, 3D drawings and sculptures, videos, digital photographs, mixed media and more.

In June, Susanna Meiers, the Art Gallery Director and Curator at El Camino College, formed the idea to create an art show of work reflecting the pandemic. While Meiers began her search for qualified artists, many artists reached out to her as well.

“I was amazed at how many people were sort of knocking at the door, trying to get into the show,” Meiers said.

Meiers explained that she postponed a scheduled show for this pandemic-inspired online gallery. Usually, she curates shows a year in advance.

“I thought maybe just postpone those and give artists an opportunity to show the work that they’ve been doing during this time of a pandemic,” Meiers said.

With so many submissions, Meiers had to make an intentional selection of artists. There are over 40 artists included in the show.

“I think it’s a very interesting representation in that it is so varied, that everybody has his [or] her own response to the situation. And it can [range] from really visceral response, some people responded in abstraction, others, as I said, did performances. One man, who is an actor anyway, did a reading, based on a series that he calls ‘Candlelight Vigils,'” Meiers said.

Garret M. Brown, artist and actor, began working on a series of vigils when the pandemic began. He submitted his piece, “Candlelight Vigils #6,” to the “Pandemic Response Art Exhibition.”

The vigil is inspired by Maira Kalman’s book, “The Principles of Uncertainty,” and a quote from President Abraham Lincoln.

“This Maira Kalman book, I was going through it and I thought, ‘Oh this piece would be really cool, especially in this whole idea of “disenthralling” ourselves, given what we’re all going through,'” Brown said.

Brown discovered his passion for painting and acting in college. His mentor, Fairfield Porter, an acclaimed painter and art critic, encouraged him to pursue the arts. Today, Brown focuses on being an actor.

“I’ve always kept writing journals and drawing and painting when I wasn’t working on a film set or working on a play,” Brown said.

Brown was prompted by his manager to participate in the “Pandemic Response Art Exhibition.” Although he was hesitant at first, he decided to submit his vigils to the gallery.

“I thought about it and I said, ‘Well, I could do some things that really have meaning for me and it might bring some degree of comfort to others during this time,’” Brown said.

Joyce Dallal, a professor in the Digital Arts Program at El Camino College, submitted a video titled, “Safe at Home.” Dallal is a professional artist and utilizes a variety of media in her work. She has exhibited nationally and internationally. During her quarantine at home, she injured her foot and had to stay inside.

“All I could do was look out the windows,” Dallal said. “I was just taking pictures of, you know, cool things in the house. Like the way the light came in, the way, you know, my orchid bloomed, like I’m really bad with orchids and it bloomed.”

After reviewing a slideshow of the pictures she had taken, Dallal decided the photographs would be most effective in a video instead. Her piece includes a variety of pictures accompanied by background noises such as conversations, the news, and her son playing the piano.

Dallal compared the video to a diary of a few months and hopes the video is relatable to viewers.

“It’s a sense of, ‘Yeah I get it, that was my experience too,'” Dallal said.

Meiers has planned another gallery, the “BLM Exhibition,” to be posted online Oct. 1. It will address the murder of George Floyd and the broad issues of the Black Lives Matter movement. Artists have already submitted their work for this exhibition.