Pandemia at Center on Contemporary Art


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Joan Beard artist statement for Witness:8912

Witness: 8912

Racial and Environmental Justice are intimately connected in an American culture that values exploitation. Before covid I knew this but couldn’t see into a different way of being here. So, when the invitation to spend time alone and in nature came, I accepted it, grateful for the opportunity. At the edges of the Salish Sea, I found space to listen deeply, observe, and witness my surroundings.

Standing deep in 8 inches of salty water and spring seaweed, I was taking photographs when I felt a call to turn and look behind me toward a crag. There yellow-orange and brown-green banners of kelp were waving in the wind - - nature’s pride flags pulling me toward them.

I stepped carefully not to crush sea life or lose my own to the shifting waters. Photographing this gorgeous display, felt that pause, where I heard only the eerie sound of mollusks slurping droplets of water. I stopped with the lull of tide turning and saw a holdfast connected to a web of coralline algae.

My beloved pink friend from childhood, coralline algae, once decorated so many tidal pools creating a menagerie filled with sea life to monitor and dip my fingers in. I hadn’t seen a large eco system where she thrived for over 6 years.

Connection poured in. I understood that I am a piece of nature.

I LOVE NATURE and if I am a piece of nature than surely I must love myself. And if we, as a culture, step into that connection, that love which can only be found outside fear, outside exploitation then we can shift with our many environments.


50-80%of the earth’s oxygen comes from the ocean’s seaweed and algae and planktons.NOAA Website.

Philosopher, Theologian and Civil Rights Leader Howard Thurman’s book “Jesus and the Disinherited, 1949 explores this paradigm of Love and Fear and is the basis for his teachings around Radical Non-Violence that so profoundly influenced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many Civil Rights Leaders.

from the curator Negarra Kudma

For the 2021 edition of the annual Members’ Exhibition, CoCA’s member artists were tasked with the following call:

“Examine the themes of resilience, perseverance, and re-engagement contextualized within the pandemic realities of the past fifteen months.”

The response was overwhelming and reflective of a pandemic environment filled with uncertainty, angst, hope, and a desire to reclaim an optimistic way forward. The fifteen artists selected present strong responses that also reflect a harmony between compelling aesthetics and a relevant and engaging conceptual framework, which rather than deny the challenges of the past almost two years, gathers them up with careful consideration to move them forward towards a more resilient and better resourced future.

All the artists resoundingly agree that without art, our global civic society can not appropriately nor inclusively consider a vision for a resilient future. The works comment on aesthetic and conceptual themes—most notably the pandemic itself, nature, abstraction, and the figure. The works on display are a testament that art was, is, and must continually be engaged as an adept technology for accessible education and engagement that reflects the now but also offers diverse potential narratives for the path forward.

Exhibiting artists: Kree Arvanitas, Sarah Banks, Joan Beard, Neil Berkowitz, A. Reginald Brooks, Esra Ebru, Tatiana Garmendia, Steve Jensen, Jody Joldersma, Maggie Mackin, Vinaya Rao, Anouk Rawkson, Kevin E. Regan, Brenetta Ward, Suze Woolf.