Arts

Dallas Billboards Become Canvases for an Influential Contemporary Artist’s New Campaign

Dallas Contemporary and Other Local Institutions Help Carrie Mae Weems' Message Soar

BY // 08.18.20

A new public art campaign is taking over several billboards in Dallas and Fort Worth, bringing attention to the disproportionately negative impact Covid-19 has had on people of color. Led by influential contemporary artist Carrie Mae Weems, Resist Covid/Take 6! is a collaboration between Dallas Contemporary and more local cultural institutions.

“We’ve all been impacted by Covid-19. It’s an ecological health crisis of epic proportions—an international disaster,” Weems says in a statement. “And yet we have indisputable evidence that people of color have been disproportionately impacted. The death toll in these communities is staggering. This fact affords the nation an unprecedented opportunity to address the impact of social and economic inequality in real time. Denial does not solve a problem.”

“And I thought, ‘How can I use my art and my voice as a way of underscoring what’s possible and bring the general public into a conversation, into heightened awareness of this problem to better the community in which I live?’”

Resist Covid Take 6!

Phase one of Resist Covid/Take 6! — including the participation of eight local museums and organizations — encompasses billboards, public service announcements, and public art projects in North Texas. These will all offer information working to curb the spread of the deadly virus. The next step will be distributing reusable cloth face masks to Dallas-Fort Worth areas with high Covid-19 case counts.

For the billboards, Weems has combined photographs with messages (in English and Spanish) like “Wash Your Hands, Cover Your Face, Maintain Social Distance, and Get Tested!” and “Don’t Worry, We’ll Hold Hands Again.” The title of the series “Take 6” refers to six feet of social distancing and will also pay homage to front line and essential workers.

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Weems is an internationally renowned artist in photography, video, text, fabric, and more. The 67-year-old artist explores themes like cultural identity, sexism, class. She finished her most recent project during her recent appointment at Syracuse University, where she was named the college’s first Artist-in-Residence.

“I am excited to welcome Carrie Mae Weems’ Resist Covid/Take 6! Public Campaign to DFW,” says City of Dallas COVID-19 Health and Healthcare Access Czar Dr. Kelvin A. Baggett in a statement. “Her ability to influence and inspire thought, conversation and change through her ingenious work is remarkable. This specific campaign accentuates necessary actions to combat COVID-19 and hopefully galvanizes efforts to tangibly address the insidious inequities that have contributed to the virus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color.”

Resist Covid/Take 6! can also be seen in Detroit, Chicago, Syracuse, Philadelphia, New York City, Atlanta, and Savannah. In Dallas-Fort Worth, there are eight locations with billboards.

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