The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Thursday launched a virtual exhibition to highlight how Los Angeles artists re-imagine and respond during social, economic and health emergencies.

“Artists are the truth tellers and cultural tradition bearers who shape our civic narrative,” said Danielle Brazell, the department’s general manager. “Artists, like every other worker in our city, have been hit both economically and socially by the public health crisis. Despite these hardships, the artists featured in this exhibition channeled their experience into dynamic artworks for the public to experience,”

The department’s Public Art Division and the L.A. City Council allocated $340,000 in arts development fees in August 2020 to create a COVID-19 Emergency Response Program for artists. The program received 760 submissions and 251 local artists were selected.

For the exhibition “Reimagine Public Art,” the artists examined forms that public art can take in a virtual public realm. They worked across mediums to give the public an idea of how art might be experienced once the city reopens and Angelenos are able to alternate interactions between virtual and physical.

“Whether experienced online, from a car, or in another socially distanced way, the public art produced over the past year demonstrates that change is both necessary and unstoppable,” said Felicia Filer, director of the DCA’s Public Art Division. “Public art will continue to expand beyond its traditional forms and move forward with many new voices leading the way.”

The division reviewed the artists’ work and found four common themes to create four showcases: a period of reflection and a re-examination of public space in “House and Home,” the adaption of local and creative practice during the pandemic in “Bridging the Digital Divide,” physical and emotional well-being in “Community Care,” and using art as an evolving social equity tool in “Songs for a Revolution.”

“The screens on our devices have become windows into areas we used to inhabit physically,” Filer said. “Strategically placed on our coffee tables, a desk, or just held in our hand, we collectively recreated public spaces to share an experience, or experience a semblance of human connection. Virtual public spaces have never existed or been explored on this scale.”

People can view the exhibition and learn more information at culturela.org/reimagine.

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