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Art meets life: Can pandemic movies prepare us for the real thing? –



It might seem like we hear more than enough about pandemics from living through the novel coronavirus in reality.

But, a group of scholars argue in a recent paper, fans of horror and pandemic movies and the “morbidly curious” show better psychological resilience in relation to the real pandemic.

“Exposure to frightening fictions allow audiences to practice effective coping strategies that can be beneficial in real-world situations,” they write in ‘Pandemic Practice: Horror Fans and Morbidly Curious Individuals Are More Psychologically Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic.’

It is a ‘preprint,’ a term for a scholarly paper published before formal peer review.

“Stories allow the audience to explore the dynamics of an imagined version of the world at very little cost, making stories particularly good vectors for learning about threats. Through stories, people can learn how to escape dangerous predators, navigate novel social situations, and explore methods for surviving a catastrophe.”

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Coltan Scrivner, a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago and an author of the paper, said the study looked at fans of prepper films: “films like apocalyptic films, zombie films, alien invasion, horror films where there’s an end-of-the-world element, where something is invading the world and the world is in chaos.” 

This genre, he argues, has at least some elements of the situation we’re living in.

The study compared the fans to the general population, asking them whether they agreed with statements such as “I have been taking the news about the pandemic in stride.”

“What we found was that fans of, specifically, prepper films were not only experiencing less psychological distress, but also experienced greater feelings of preparedness,” Scrivner explains. “What this means is that if we gave them statements like, ‘I knew how bad things would get before they really took off with coronavirus.’ Or, ‘I knew which supplies I should buy in order to prepare for the pandemic.’”

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Scrivner is an expert on morbid curiosity — a stronger-than-usual interest in themes related to fear and death.

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He argues that in a real-world catastrophe, morbid curiosity can be an advantage, which was another of the study’s findings: morbidly curious people “experienced significantly greater positive resilience during the pandemic.”

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Morbid curiosity is often discouraged, if only because it can make other people uncomfortable, but Scrivner argues that it isn’t a good or bad thing in itself.

Pandemics like the coronavirus crisis inspire outbreaks of art

“Traits are either well-suited or ill-suited to certain situations,” he says.

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In mid-March, as Canada started to shut down in response to the pandemic, the 1995 movie Outbreak made the Netflix top 10.

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According to the film’s synopsis, Outbreak follows “army doctors struggling to find a cure for a deadly virus spreading throughout a California town that was brought to America by an African monkey.”

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Scrivner says his favourite pandemic movie is Contagion (2011), in which a devastating pandemic spread by touch arrives in the United States from east Asia.

“I watched it in March or April, and it does such a great job, now that we’re kind of living in it, of really simulating what that looks like. There’s everything from the shortage of supplies to Jude Law propagating this kind of miracle cure — all these things that we’re seeing in the real world.”

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“It’s really interesting, really well-done with regard to how well they predicted what would happen in a true global pandemic breakout.”

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Coronavirus outbreak: Stars of ‘Contagion’ movie reunite to film PSAs on COVID-19

York University professor Steven Hoffman assigns students Contagion as required watching for an international health law class he teaches.

“I have always included Contagion in my … lists, because I felt it so accurately depicted what was likely to happen in a future pandemic,” he says. “And indeed most of what we saw in Contagion has actually happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Hoffman points to the breakdown of international health systems under pressure, panic buying by consumers, dubious miracle cures and a disease that “spread very quietly and then very quickly” as common features of both Contagion’s fictional pandemic and the real one.

“It really highlights the power of the arts to bring attention to the way things could be, and to help us be ready for those futures, and ideally craft a better one.”

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Hoffman is open to the idea that exposure to fictional catastrophes could leave us better able to deal with real ones.

“Simulations, and experiences that get people to think about future possibilities, will have a preparatory effect on people. That’s why we often run simulations for organizations and communities in order to make sure that people know what to do when certain events happen.”

“People enter a world, they know it’s fiction, does it actually make them better-prepared? That’s what this study speaks to. It’s a really interesting question.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Highlights from 'With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985' – Interior Design



Installation view of “Fringe.” Photography courtesy of Denny Dimin Gallery.

Writing wall labels for an exhibition at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2016 led to curator Anna Katz’s discovery of an American art movement from 1970s. “After completing a Ph.D. in contemporary art, I was astonished to have never heard of Pattern and Decoration and some of its key artists, such as Kim MacConnel,” she tells Interior Design. The first thing Katz embarked on upon becoming the museum’s in-house curator the following year was an exhibition that would put the influential but somewhat forgotten movement back on the map.

“With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985” opened at MOCA in October, 2019 with a display of around 50 artists whose work between early 1970s and mid-‘80s defied the era’s male-dominated minimalism with interpretation of craft and decorative techniques, “while using abstraction with forceful presence,” according to the curator. The show recently traveled to the Hessel Museum of Art at the Bard College campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, to emphasize the movement’s exchange between East and West Coasts as well as to continue the conversation around Pattern and Decoration (also known as P&D)’s influence on artists who insistently use craft today.

“When I visit young artists’ studios, I see how craft has become a tool to talk about marginalization and value,” Katz explains. P&D’s unsung motto of “more is more” echoes in contemporary artists, who according to the curator, believe “what’s considered unnecessary is necessary; over the top, just the right amount;” and “irrelevant, exceptional.” 

She had initially planned a show that would perhaps be “a sharp edge of a wedge,” but her three years of research and visits to many attics and storage facilities led her towards an expansive direction. Besides the movement’s critical figures, such as Cynthia Carlson, Joyce Kozloff, Kim MacConnel, and Miriam Schapiro, artists who have not necessarily been considered a part of P&D also made the cut. “I am not claiming Lynda Benglis or Al Loving were a part of the group, but there is a tremendous crossover between the core artists and others’ overturning of hierarchies of western art tradition which gerrymandered to exclude anyone except white and male.” 

Fabrics with bright sequins or gaudy-colored ceramics may now prevail contemporary art galleries, “but that was not the case back then,” Katz reminds and adds: “The show helps to understand why the current norm was so radical at time and recover artistic voices that has informed today’s artists to speak about political and social movements.”

This very connection between the past and present prompted the Denny Dimin Gallery in Manhattan to organize the ongoing group exhibition, “Fringe.” “Some of our gallery artists, including Amanda Valdez, Justine Hill, and Future Retrieval, are unabashedly influenced by the 1970s movement,” says co-founder Elizabeth Denny. “There are many new conversations to have about the role of the artist in terms of gender and identity that many of the P&D artists were having, which are still so important today.” “Fringe” includes 12 contemporary artists who adapt craft techniques, including sewing or floral arrangement, to deliver statements on race, identity, and gender. Artist Justine Hill, who also assisted Denny in organizing the show, sees the show as an opportunity to expand on a major influence on her work, “and bring that interest out of the studio to think about my peers through a P&D lens.”

Interior Design has picked highlights from the Hessel Museum of Art’s ongoing exhibition at Bard College, “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985,” in addition to a few from “Fringe” in Manhattan. 

Jane Kaufman, Embroidered, Beaded Crazy Quilt, 1983-85

Embroidered, Beaded Crazy Quilt, 1983-1985. Photography by Joshua Nefsky, courtesy of the artist.

Kaufman, according to Katz, “defied the logic that women historically did not make art.” For this nocturnal-hued quilt, the artist used over one hundred historical embroidery stitches dating as far as the 16th century. Kaufman studied them at The Textile Museum in Washington D.C. after she curated the very first P&D exhibition in 1976 at Alessandra Gallery in Manhattan with 10 artists, many of whom are in the current show. “The work of women artists for hundreds of years have been broadly called decoration, and Kaufman’s work shows decoration is worthy of admiration,” adds Katz. Often times intentional, the materials used by the women artists reflect their limited resources under the shadow of their male peers. 

Cynthia Carlson, Tough Shift for M.I.T., 1981-2019

Installation image of Cynthia Carlson, Tough Shift for M.I.T., 1981-2019. Photography by Olympia Shannon, courtesy of the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. 

Architecture, especially Bauhaus, was an influence among the artists of this group. “Not its [Ludwig] Mies van der Rohe-led later stage, but the early Weimar era,” Katz notes. This connection is most apparent in Carlson’s wallpaper-looking painting of floral patterns. The curator also makes a parallel between the artist’s attempt to make-do with a given platform and inherent nature of decoration. “Unlike a painter working autonomously with an easel, Carlson shows the decoration’s dependence on presumed architecture,” she says. The artist first created the immersive installation, for which she applied paint directly onto the walls, for M.I.T. with cake-frosting tools. Between embracing decoration, domestic tools, and so-called feminine imagery of flowers, Carlson—who has recreated the same installation for the Hessel Museum of Art show—builds an expansive panorama of the movement for today’s viewers.   

Sylvia Sleigh, The Turkish Bath, 1973

A figurative painting of male nudes may come off as an unexpected entry to an exhibition about abstraction and craft. Sleigh’s painting, however, sets the overall show’s tone and injects the viewer into the movement’s place and time. In addition to subverting art history’s fascination for female nudity through unrobing the opposite gender, Sleigh also juxtaposes a who’s who of P&D through placing three key male figures—all nude—in front of a geometric tapestry that salutes the movement’s core aesthetic. John Perrault, who organized P&D’s first museum exhibition at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1) at Long Island City in 1977 takes the painting’s center stage with his gaze locked away from the painter’s. Artist Scott Burton is rendered as perched over his legs on which he rests his hands, while critic Carter Ratcliff who supported the movement with his essays and reviews sits over a chair behind other men.  

Tina Girouard, Maintenance III, 1973

Tina Girouard, Maintenance III, 1973, Video (color, sound) 27 min. Courtesy of the artist’s estate.

This 27-minute projection zooms onto Girouard’s lap while she tends a group of floral fabrics which she inherited from her uncle, Sullivan. Throughout the video, she rinses, sews, and folds the materials while the radio in the background plays content that ranges from the time’s popular tunes, advertisement, and political updates. A song from Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of The Moon album is followed by a car dealership advertisement, and we eventually hear the most recent development in the Watergate hearings. “That big ‘a-ha’ moment is critical about the movement’s queering of not only contemporary art but the broader authority,” says Katz. The topics’ relevancy to the present, particularly a few years ago during the curator’s research for the show, is further striking. 

Takako Yamaguchi, Magnificat #6, 1984

Takako Yamaguchi, Magnificat #6, 1984. Oil, bronze leaf, and glitter on paper. Two parts, overall 74 × 107 1/2 in. (187.96 × 273.05 cm. Deutsche Bank Collection. Photography by Liz Ligon. 

Despite its rebellious nature, P&D always struggled with inclusivity and remained a heavily white movement. Moreover, appropriation of Asian, Middle Eastern, African and Indigenous craft was a common practice—although most artists committed to research and travel to understand the geographies they found themselves strongly influenced by. In addition to being the youngest artist in the exhibition’s checklist, Yamaguchi is particular for her take on Japanese art tradition. The California-based artist’s large-scale bronze leaf and glitter-heavy painting satirizes the West’s notions on Japanese Minimalism and the moderate use of expression with a medley of inspirations that range from kimonos to bedroom dividers to architecture. “She was against expectations and responded with Maximalism,” says Katz.

Howardena Pindell, Untitled #19, 1977

Howardena Pindell, Untitled #19, 1977. Mixed media on canvas 94 3/4 x 74 1/2 inches. Photography courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

Similar to the show’s other Black artists, such as Sam Gilliam or Faith Ringgold, Pindell was not directly involved with P&D; however, her utilization of the time’s unconventional materials is strikingly similar to many members’. During her role at the feminist A.I.R. Gallery in the late ‘70s, Pindell worked with un-stretched canvases and sewed bits of shredded fabrics into paintings. Although this painting does not include her other signature materials, such as animal hair, perfume or glitter, the heavily manual technique and its quilt-like aesthetic is a strong example of Pindell’s inspiration from her travels to West and East Africa as well as challenging of feminism’s favoring of whiteness through her democratic technique.

Miriam Schapiro, Heartland, 1985

Heartland, 1985. Photography by Zach Stovall/ © 2021 Estate of Miriam Schapiro / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Older and more established than her peers, Schapiro was considered an authority in strategies around collage, decoration and feminism that set the movement’s foundation. Schapiro’s coining of the term femmage to define female collage perhaps cast the biggest impact on P&D artists who elaborated on unapologetic femininity and implementation of found everyday materials. In the shape of a heart, similar to Schapiro’s numerous other works, this assembly of stuff includes found fabric cut-outs sewn together with a commitment to traditional quilter patterns. The work is a mosaic of generations-long female labor and assumption of a supposedly domestic aesthetic with an unabashedly kitsch silhouette of a heart.

Justine Hill, The Arch, 2021

Justine Hill, The Arch, 2021. Photography courtesy of the artist and Denny Dimin Gallery.

Known for her bright-colored whimsical cut-out paintings, Hill cites Cynthia Carlson, who is also a part of “Fringe,” as a strong influence, and this acrylic and paper arch-like painting is a stark proof. Similar to Carlson’s use interiority and painting through form, Hill creates portals for the subliminal with zigzagged gestures and immediate forms which absorb the viewer through their playfulness. The similarity between two artist’s contribution to the Denny Dimin show also lies in their use of multiple panels to play with painting’s notion of flatness and unity.

Josie Love Roebuck, Farm Boy, 2020

Josie Love Roebuck, Farm Boy, 2020. Photography courtesy of the artist.

Figuration rarely made its way into P&D artists’ fabrics and yarns, but numerous threads of techniques in Roebuck’s portrait of a Black boy tie her work with the movement. Sewn and printed onto un-stretched canvas, the square-formed “painting” holds buttons, fabric and yarn that yield the boy’s piercing expression and ruby-colored shirt with geometric patterns. He blends into the background of patched light-hued fabrics. “The inclusion of artists of color and a non-binary into a conversation around who is allowed to claim the domestic space felt like a natural expansion of P&D ideas,” says Hill. “If the movement was aimed at inclusion and a non-hierarchical appreciation of art, then these voices are necessary to talk about its legacy today.”

Max Colby, They Consume Each Other #1, 2019-21

Max Colby, They Consume Each Other (#1), 2019-21. Photography courtesy of the artist.

Similar to artists of color, queer artists were invisible throughout P&D’s roster. Colby’s elaborate installation of beads, faux flowers, sequins, ribbons, fabric and jewelry is a flamboyant celebration of self-expression through the artist’s meticulous process of utopian construction of a universe. “Max may not list P&D as a direct influence but the work uses forms and materials more associated with ritual or craft than art, and the topics discussed such as gender, power and beauty—all feel like topics the P&D artists would rally behind,” says Hill. Connected to the movement through her commitment to handwork, labor, and color, Colby builds a set-like small scale glass towers crowned with lush arrangements that burst with color and materials. The viewer is invited for a full tour around an impossibly colorful and joyfully queer banquet of shiny glass beads and lush surfaces.

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Metchosin art market works to support BIPOC artists – Vancouver Island Free Daily –



Down to Earth Gardens and Nursery in Metchosin will hold an art market in August to unite people outdoors and provide an opportunity for artists facing greater barriers to sell their work.

Running 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 15, the Down to Earth Art Market will provide an environment where artists and the public can meet in person in a green and fresh garden setting.

Mixed media artist and Down to Earth Art Market vendor Rose Cowles’ outdoor market setup. Event organizer and abstract artist Jessica Freedman used her business background to promote the idea of an art market and select a diverse group of talented artists to participate. (Courtesy of Rose Cowles)

Victoria-based abstract artist Jessica Freedman proposed the idea of an art market to the nursery, hoping to bring a variety of lower Island artists together to resume sharing their artwork in person.

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“I’m sure every other artist at home was saying ‘oh no, my art show is being cancelled,’ but I also have a business background and thought, why don’t I use that to help other artists?” Freedman said.

She selected 16 diverse professional artists to participate in the event, ensuring that BIPOC artists and others who may face barriers would be included. Mixed media artists Sarah Jim and Rose Cowles, ceramic artist Cindy Gibson and painters Eunmi Conacher, Andrea Soos and Cheri Le Brun will be among those presenting their works.

“I’m definitely feeling really excited to see people face to face and see people’s live reactions to real art,” Freedman said.

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MetchosinVisual ArtsWest Shore

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New art gallery exhibit features ceramics inspired by Japanese aesthetics –



A new exhibit in the foyer of the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery (MJMAG) takes a look at a selection of artwork and how artists have been influenced by Japanese ceramics and aesthetics.

Titled Shibui, the display of ceramic and clay platters, bowls and vases comes from the MJMAG permanent collection and features the works of Moose Jaw’s own Robert Froese, along with Saskatchewan artists Jack Sures, Randy Woolsey and Japan’s Soji Hamada.

The project was put together by curatorial assistant Jared Boechler, who made the selections as a counterpart to the current exhibition ‘Wholeness’ by Hanna Yokozawa Farquharson.

“It’s just a really interesting take on some local ceramic artists and the international influences on their work,” said MJMAG curator Jennifer McRorie. “It’s interesting to see where people draw their inspiration from, and there’s such a strong ceramics tradition in Japan, where they really try and emphasize the quality of the clay. Then there’s a lot of chance that’s allowed to happen in the making of the works, there’s kind of a rustic element where they allow the glaze and clay to interact and see what happens.”

That randomness leads to every piece having a unique look, something that can be seen even in pieces in the same style by the same artist. As an example, a selection of five items on display from Woolsey all carry similarities but are distinct in their differences.

That’s not to say there isn’t an element of precision involved, especially with some of the more intricate works.

“There’s a really beautiful bowl by Jack Sures that very much looks like a traditional ink painting or calligraphy,” McRorie said. “So it’s nice to think of his work through that lens of a connection to Japan.”

One can also find distinctions in the medium itself, with McRorie pointing to a selection of tea bowls by Froese as a prime example.

“You look at the clay, there’s a real roughness to it that they use and you can tell it’s different clay body than what we’re used to around here,” she explained. “It’s similar to what you’d see from other items from artists in Japan.”

The exhibit can be found immediately upon entering the museum and art gallery and will be on display until Sept. 5.

The gallery is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and closed Mondays.

For more information on the MJMAG, visit their website at and follow them on Facebook at

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