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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Social Distancing in the Studio: The Eric Carle Museum Presents Its First Virtual Exhibit

Museums are in a tight spot. We all are, but when you are a space built for the sole purpose of luring in large crowds, 2020 must feel particularly personal. You might respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by simply waiting it out, but haven’t we all been doing that the last 3 months? Perhaps a different tactic is in order. Ingenuity. An attempt at something different. Something virtual.

As of yesterday, The Eric Carle Museum is presenting its first virtual exhibit. Called ART in PLACE: Social Distancing in the Studio, the show consists of 21 picture-book artists, isolating in their studios, working in the midst of a pandemic. Or, as Executive Director Alexandra Kennedy puts it, “We may all be in isolation—but these artists are helping to make sure we don’t feel isolated.”

The show was curated by Mo Willems and Ellen Keiter, the Chief Curator of the Carle. Pieces and views of studios are included from such folks as Ashley Bryan, Vashti Harrison, LeUyen Pham, Peter Sis, and more.

In his intro, Mo suggests that folks watch this, then display their own “studios” whether they be desks, kitchen tables, or floors, along with art created during these strange times, and then tag it all #CarleArtInPlace so that we may see the results. He notes, “Science will get us out of this. Art will get us through this.”

We will all have our favorites in this exhibit. You’ll see the cardboard ukulele whose creation Dan Santat documented step-by-step, piece-by-piece on Instagram. You’ll see books in the midst of their earliest stages, like Marla Frazee’s upcoming title with Mac Barnett (and if you can look upon Marla’s studio without envy then you have befuddled me). You can see the art people create for comfort, for their own mental health, and for work.

It’s like I could just pluck it up, stick it in my back pocket, and run off with it or something.

Finally, in the interest of complete and utter honestly, I might nudge you to look at what David Small has on display. Just if you like, of course.

I am not as an impartial a reporter today as I might be, and if you look at what he’s presented you will see why.

Congrats to the Carle and all the participants.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.