Creating Apart

Creating Apart: Local Artists Respond to a Global Pandemic 
An Exhibition at the Tweed Museum of Art


Portrait of Anne Dugan
Curator Anne Dugan

In March of 2020 the realities of the global Coronavirus pandemic began to come into view in Northern Minnesota. On March 6 the state announced its first case of COVID 19 and by March 27 the Governor had issued a shelter in place order. With school, work, entertainment, childcare and almost all activities outside the home halted, community members turned towards the arts. Social media exploded with people recreating their favorite paintings, streaming television and movie sites saw a massive jump in content consumption, and the Facebook page ‘Virtual Duluth’ marked thousands of visits daily to programs including live videos of glass blowing, acrobatics, and performances from artists’ homes.

This exhibition showcases the responses of a handful of area artists to the new realities of creating art in the age of a global pandemic. For many, this time has been spent trying to balance home life, work, and the uncertainty of both while also trying to leverage their craft to create connections in the face of physical distancing. For some it means retreating from the art that they created pre COVID and channeling their creative energy into alternative paths while others are leaning into time spent in isolation as a way to accelerate their artistic output. At the same time that artists are dealing with the pandemic on an intensely personal level, they are also sharing their gifts to promote public health and social justice through public service campaigns, public art, and activism. 

The vitality of the local visual arts in this community is an important line of defense against the stress and isolation of this time. The acute awareness of the importance of art as a form of respite, recovery, activism, and activity has been pushed to the forefront during our shared public health crisis. 

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The Tweed is honored to be able to recognize the central role of art in our shared humanity.






Brian Barber    Sarah M. Brokke    Joe Klander    Karen Savage Blue    Ivy Vainio    Moira Villiard


Creating Apart: Local Artists Respond to a Global Pandemic
Directed by Mike Scholtz
Filmed with Anne Dugan

The exhibit includes works from the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) Poster Campaign, COVID-19 Prevention and Health Education series

Contributing artists

Michelle Defoe (Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe, Tashia Hart (Red Lake Nation), Steve Premo (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe), Karen Savage Blue (Fond du Lac Ojibwe), Steven StandingCloud (Red Lake Nation), Chris Sweet (Ho-Chunk and White Earth Nation) and Leah Yellowbird (First Nations Algonquin-Métis/Anishinaabe). 

Special miigwech 

to AICHO team members who worked diligently on COVID-19 prevention & response: 
Michelle LeBeau, Ivy Vainio, Moira Villard, Jazmin Wong, Daryl Olson, Cheryl Stone, Scott Thompson, Rose White, Jamie France, Katie Schmitz, Jen Davey, LeAnn Littlewolf, Randi Ruhanen, Maria Alicea, Jennifer McNertney, Deanna Reder, Darricka Auginash, Cameron Kennedy, Ahleena Isaacson, Carmen Volk, Alisha Bliss, and Susana Garcia Acuna.


Stories of Wisdom from Bodies in Separation Artwork
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Stories of Wisdom from Bodies in Separation (SWaBS): Archiving the Coronavirus Pandemic Through the Lens of Humanities has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

To see the full interviews
and media for this project

Visit Archive

To contribute your own materials to the Northeastern Minnesota COVID-19 Community Archive Project, please Visit Library