An artwork about people practicing social distancing at a time of a deadly virus. And also offering kindness.
In Lexington, Kentucky, the universities and public schools closed on Friday, March 13th. Faith communities were asked to suspend their services. Major social events were canceled, including the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Public libraries shuttered, too.
Everyone has been asked to practice social distancing. This is hard, even for the introverts among us and even if we call it something else, like “physical distancing,” in order to affirm our lasting commitment to community.
On Monday, March 16th, the first day the changes impacted many of us, we started this new artwork—two or three photographs captured every day.
Kurt teaches Studio Art at Transylvania University in Lexington, KY and makes art to invite conversations about contemporary social issues, from marginalized sexualities to the experience of homelessness. Recently, he has become newly invigorated by plans to reseed the clouds over Kentucky with meat, in loving memory of the Kentucky meat rain of 1876.
Kremena teaches American Literature as well as classes that ask students to meet and work with their neighbors face to face. Born and raised in Communist Bulgaria, she continues to draw inspiration for her art and teaching from Timur and his commitment to community. She became an official American on December 10, 2010.
Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova capture photographs at the periphery of American culture, where drag queens, discarded couches, and abandoned motel signs exist. They have traveled to Los Angeles, Indianapolis, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Portland to photograph the people who live near the couches and easy chairs found on these cities’ curbs. The resulting collection of images is part of an ongoing artwork, DISCARDED: USA. With the Lexington Tattoo Project—a public artwork that placed the words of a poem, as permanent tattoos, on the bodies of 253 Lexingtonians—Kurt and Kremena have started a movement and are working with several other cities to launch locally based pride-of-place Tattoo Projects. Kurt and Kremena have exhibited their collaborative work in Boulder, Indianapolis, Lexington, Louisville, Oneonta, New York, San Antonio, and Venice Beach.