Transcendients: 100 Days of COVID-19 and Memorial to Healthcare Workers
Artist Statement by Taiji Terasaki
In March of 2020, when Stay-at-Home Orders were imposed on much of the United States and the world, I found myself socially distanced in my studio. Responding to the uncertainties and anxieties the pandemic brought, I tried to find light in positive stories. So I started a meditative weaving process, creating one woven paper work every day for 100 days.
At first my focus was on honoring frontline workers. But as the daily events I could bear witness to online evolved, so did my subjects. The 100 weavings I created over this period tell stories that vary widely, ranging from issues around race and class, to food sustainability, art, scientific innovations, and climate adaptation.
The pandemic has forced our world to reset and reshape—in just a matter of three months and ten days, the world felt fundamentally changed. The 100 Days of COVID-19 weavings became material expressions of both compassion and sorrow, and an effort to spread a message of hope.
Meantime, while following news coverage of the coronavirus, I repeatedly came across stories of healthcare workers who had died from COVID-19. I wanted to share their stories, and help commemorate these fallen heroes. I tried capturing the spiritual movement of these healthcare workers on mist, and then printed the resulting portraits on long Kozo paper scrolls. The 14 individuals on exhibit are just a fraction of the thousands of healthcare workers we have lost.
This project is a collaboration with Kaiser Health News and The Guardian. Since April 2020, their journalists have tracked all US healthcare worker deaths, and gathered them in an online interactive database called Lost on the Frontline. With their reporters, I was able to reach out to the families of each of the heroes in this gallery.
This exhibition is an extension of Terasaki’s exhibition Transcendients: Heroes at Borders.
Learn more about the heroes:
Transcendients: 100 Days of COVID-19
Memorial to Healthcare Workers