University of Maine students in the intermedia program have built upon the “Free the Vaccine for COVID-19” campaign by participating in an effort titled “Creativity vs. COVID.” This awareness campaign seeks to create various types of media in order to convey scientific facts about the vaccine in a humanizing way through art, as well as to spread awareness about current COVID-19 vaccination opportunities.
The “Free the Vaccine for COVID-19” campaign is a larger effort that the intermedia program students are raising awareness for. The campaign involves a number of volunteers that range from artists to healthcare workers to students and spreads across 29 different countries. “Free the Vaccine for COVID-19” is led by two nonprofit organizations: Universities Allied for Essential Medicines and the Center for Artistic Activism.
Director of the Intermedia Program Susan Smith shared that the “Creativity vs. COVID” exhibition and the awareness raised through it doesn’t just stop at UMaine.
“We brought an international exhibition to UMaine’s IMRC Center as the first location to host ‘Creativity vs. COVID,’ an exhibition of work created by artists, students [and] scientists in over 18 countries,” Smith said.
The exhibition was on display at the IMRC Center at UMaine until April 16, where it then moved to its next location at the University of Maryland.
Smith both hoped that the exhibition would bring awareness to COVID-19 and the vaccine through art and media and that her students would learn from this experience of a lifetime. Smith is optimistic for what their art can do for them in the future.
“As director, it is important to me that students see the potential for their role beyond the classroom in a society in which art can serve to create change, and to bring information to a wider audience,” Smith said. “We are in the middle of a global pandemic, and while they have had to struggle with the challenges that have presented, there exists also the opportunity for them to use their work like never before.”
Rochelle Lawrence, a MFA student in the intermedia program, has found that the lasting effects of the pandemic have helped her realize the importance that artwork can have on conveying science to the public.
“The global pandemic has changed the way we are able to be in the world and as an artist, the isolating effect of the shutdown has opened my eyes to the importance that science has on our lives every day,” Lawrence said. “It has also shown me how such a large part of the United States’ population is skeptical of science. Making artwork that promotes the vaccine has been a chance to use art as a communication device. Art is an amazing tool for grabbing people’s attention so that they might think further about how the vaccine can impact their lives and in turn, move us toward herd immunity.”
“Creativity vs. COVID” isn’t the only effort that the intermedia program has done to promote the vaccine. On April 2, “A Shot in the Dark” was displayed through projectors onto the Fogler Library and the New Balance Field House at 8:30 p.m. There, 10 intermedia students used animations that evoked images from the “Free the Vaccine for COVID-19” logo.
Smith also noted that the intermedia program created graphics for the University of Maine System president’s task force vaccine campaign in the past. They have also collaborated with the Institute of Medicine to help promote information webinars.
“We are in the process right now of fabricating a mobile unit to take our practices into the community to use for multi-purpose creative projects — projection, printmaking a mobile farmer’s market,” Smith said. “This work has inspired the students to be involved in their community. We are working on projects focusing on monuments, statues and erased histories, and one of the first projects will be a trail of “monuments” memorializing lives lost to COVID.”
Out of all the admirable efforts the intermedia program has done to help the community understand the importance of the vaccine and how COVID-19 and art can seamlessly intertwine, Smith finds that the best part is seeing her students receive the recognition they deserve for all their hard work.
More information on the intermedia program at UMaine and what they have been working on, as well as upcoming events, can be found at https://intermedia.umaine.edu.