The Com Com Newsletter went live with a local photographer and videographer documenting life through a Covid-19 lens.
On May 21, we came together for a virtual conversation with photographer Eze Amos of the Cville Porch Portraits project & Ty Cooper of the Your Covid Story project to discuss the ways they've been documenting — even celebrating — life during this crisis. The conversation was moderated by Emma Terry, Programs & Communication Director and Special Assistant to the Vice Provost for the Arts at UVA Arts.
As artists we decide what kind of story we want to tell. We all know how hard it is — we don’t need someone to remind us of that. The part that we need to be reminded of is that we’re all in this together. The story we’re telling is one of a community coming together." — Eze Amos
When asked about the most memorable experiences they've had while pursuing their projects during quarantine, Eze shared how interesting it's been to see people so thrilled just to be with “another human being! They’re ready to shake hands or even hug — because people forget. And then they catch themselves, or are even a little embarrassed that they forgot. And that just tells you so much about what we are all going through as a community. About the things we’re used to, the things we’ve taken for granted.”
Eze and his fellow "Porchraits" photographers Tom Daly, John Robinson, Sarah Cramer, and Kristen Finn had received 868 requests for porchraits (and counting) at the time of our conversation, and have raised over $30,000 to support Charlottesville artists since beginning this project. With a pay-what-you-can format, they agreed at the outset to donate 50% of their collective profits to an artist relief fund created by local arts nonprofits The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative & New City Arts. Their support is helping provide mini-grants that put money directly into the hands of artists in Charlottesville, many of whom have found themselves completely out of work since the onset of the virus.
Stories serve as the thread and humans serve as the fabric. When you connect those two, you really see the commonalities…and shared experiences. We may look different, we may be on different sides of the political aisle, we may speak different languages, but we all have stories to tell.”— Ty Cooper“
The conversation turned to the topic of storytelling, and why it not only matters, but is so important during a crisis. Ty and his Your Covid Story partner, Daniel James, are on a quest to share the stories of 30 individuals in Charlottesville during this crisis. They believe that "every good story is relatable," and are consistently struck by the commonalities of the locals they've interviewed. "Sometimes in a crisis we look at ourselves like we’re on a deserted island. Especially those who are extroverted are really struggling right now." But their project is a chance to see that although our specific struggles are somewhat different, as humans, we have similar needs.
If there's a silver lining to this Covid-19 cloud, it's these reminders of our shared humanity brought to the surface through the creativity of our neighbors.