We Used to Gather
As the world remains in various stages of lockdown due to COVID-19, people everywhere are confronting the effects of social isolation, unemployment, and fear for our lives and our health. So many aspects of American life that we have taken for granted as a guarantee have been stripped away, and we are left mourning, unsure what continuance will look like on the other side. We turn to digital applications as substitutes for physical togetherness, and though these platforms fill a need, they are no replacement for safe assembly and intimacy. For now, we settle for separation in the defense of our health and hold onto hope that things will get better soon.
In this unprecedented time where we are actively fighting against both racial injustice and a global pandemic, we are reminded that words and images representing and communicating our outrage, anxiety, sadness and demand for change carry tremendous weight. Sharing symbols of unity from a social distance has been our message in a bottle to one another - that we’re scared but present, and ready to fight from home for as long as it takes.
We Used to Gather presents a multitude of figurative works - all stylistically and conceptually varied - brought together symbolically through the physical presence of their works on the walls at Library Street Collective. What began as an exhibition of contemporary portraiture with a small group of artists before the pandemic has become a gathering of more than 50 pieces, hung salon-style in close proximity. Something like avatars, the figures within the works become stand-ins while we take a necessary but difficult leave from one another - separated but connected - until we can be reunited.