Isolation and the toll of a tumultuous year are on display in a virtual exhibition of how 21 D.C. art teachers coped with racial violence amid a pandemic.

A D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities grant is funding the exhibit of the works of Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell in “Distance Learning; Featuring Established and Upcoming Art Teachers in the Nation’s Capital Who Painted Their Experiences and Responses to the 2020 Pandemic and Social Unrest.”

A virtual platform is being used as an alternative to the brick-and-mortar gallery spaces as a response to the social and logistical limitations resulting from COVID-19.

The artists examine themes of isolation and mental health during the 2020 pandemic and social unrest – from the closure of schools in March to the killing of George Floyd through the presidential election.

Using the genres of portraiture, sculpture, print, digital and abstract art, and spoken word, the artists convey their observations of culture, how they managed the time in quarantine after schools closed in-person learning, their continued connection to the youth and communities they teach, and the importance of having this opportunity to focus on creating their art.

“The makings of this show have been on my brain early into the pandemic,” says Terrell.

“Living with a partner who is a fine artist and teacher allowed me to see first-hand the toll that this year’s past racial and pandemic events have had on our educators. Suddenly my husband James had extra time to paint because he teaches from home and can work between classes. It made me wonder what other artist teachers were going through.”

Terrell said that in lieu of conducting their yearly youth art competition, she decided to work on a grant for adults that focused on these teachers.

Friendship School contacted James and expressed interest in having an adult show. Terrell included not only the artist teachers from that campus, but art teachers around the District as well as independent contractors who offer arts programming. These pieces are the result of what was submitted to her.

For some of the teachers, this is their first time showing their art in a gallery, while others are seasoned professionals. All their stories were amplified as communities the Coronavirus hit hardest and for whom the social issues were deeply personal.

Featured artists include Drew Anderson, Bomani Armah, Adia Harris, Danielle Hawkins, Randall C. Holloway, Janai Johnson, Flonora Merritt, Joy Nutt, Asma Page, Zalika Perkins, Reshada Pullen, Tiffany Raquel, Rhonda Silver, Patricia Smith, Carol Solinger, Elizabeth Stewart, James Terrell, Randall Waters, Jimise Winston, Judy Williams and Malandela Zulu.

James S. Terrell, “We the People”
February 8 – March 19, 2021
Made possible by an Art Exhibition (Curatorial) Grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
Virtual Gallery:

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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