In response to the global pandemic and its effect on artist communities, MOZAIK Philanthropy created Future Art Awards, an inclusive contest open to professional and amateur U.S. artists. The organization asked artists to submit work that was inspired by the current crisis and could help reimagine alternative futures. The winning artworks are part of a virtual exhibition that opened to the public in June.
From more than 1,100 artist submissions, two CalArtians were selected as winners: Jennie E. Park (Art, Critical Studies MFA 22) and Matthew Pagoaga (Art MFA 21).
Park was one of 10 Featured Artist awardees to receive a $2,000 prize for her piece Vision Test / Viewfinder (2020). Shortly after the CalArts campus closed in March, Park created a kinetic sculpture that references methods used by optometrists to perform eye exams. Images on an iPad are mediated by the kinetic sculpture, which superimposes a variation of four phrases: “WE ARE THE VIRUS,” “THEY ARE THE VIRUS,” “WE RESIST THE VIRUS,” and “THEY RESIST THE VIRUS” on the images.
From the artist’s statement:
COVID-19 exists in a world already structured by metaphorical “viruses”: the unhoused, imprisoned, migrants or refugees, and other “others” are deemed societal “diseases”; because we have already socially distanced ourselves from them by sequestering them away where they will not disrupt “normal” ways of life, they are largely unable to practice social distancing to protect themselves from COVID-19. At the same time, capitalism, pollution, social media, and protests or social movements are also deemed viral. In a given context, what is a “virus,” and who are “we” and “they?” As “resist” has political and immunization-related meanings, what does it mean to “resist the virus?”
Pagoaga was one of 40 Special Mention artists to receive a $1,000 prize for his piece Myself When I’m Not Real (2020), a 60×60 inch self portrait. The abstract images that are broken up into quadrants are partly inspired by our virtual portals to the outside world—Zoom, Facetime, Google Hangouts etc.—that we rely on during this isolating and disconnected time of quarantine. In his artist statement, Pagoaga states, “The pixels that represent ‘us’ amidst the new reality of quarantine reveal a strange miasma of information when collected, expanded, and oscillated.”
Check out the MOZAIK Future Art Awards’ virtual exhibition on its website.