Students from UMaine’s intermedia programs craft conceptual COVID-19 masks, which are included in a traveling exhibit from the Center for Artistic Activism as part of its "Free the Vaccine for COVID-19" campaign. PHOTO COURTESY OF UMAINE

Intermedia program promotes COVID-19 vaccination through art  

ORONO — University of Maine intermedia students are creating and sharing art that advocates for COVID-19 vaccination and equitable distribution of doses.  

In an awareness campaign led by Intermedia MFA Program Director Susan Smith, about 20 graduate and undergraduate students have been developing various media that reinforce the hardships of the pandemic and encourage spectators to help bring about its end through inoculation.  

The effort, known as Creativity vs. COVID, builds on another campaign launched by the Center for Artistic Activism and Universities Allied for Essential Medicine called “Free the Vaccine for COVID-19,” which includes a traveling exhibit touring several universities. UMaine’sInnovative Media Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC) is the first stop for the exhibit, which is on display through April 16.  

“We are in a unique position as artists to be able to present what’s happening around us and confront an issue in a different way than just reading it on the news or looking at the statistics,” Smith says.  

As part of the UMaine campaign, 10 intermedia students are creating animations evoking imagery from “Free the Vaccine for COVID-19,” including a bird equitably distributing vaccines — the campaign’s logo. They will use projectors to display their work, collectively titled A Shot in the Dark on the fronts of Fogler Library and New Balance Field House at 8:30 p.m. on April 2.   

Other student projects for outreach effort include promotional buttons distributed at the Wabanaki Health Center on Indian Island and stickers offered at COVID-19 testing sites on campus. Some students also have created a postcard campaign titled The Outbreak Diaries, in which community members will be asked to share their experiences during the pandemic. 

Smith says their work will be incorporated into the Center for Artistic Activism’s exhibit at the IMRC alongside graphic designs, parody music videos and other work created by artists worldwide as part of Free the Vaccine for COVID-19”and other global outreach projects. They also will join conceptual COVID-19 masks crafted by Smith’s students in the fall of 2020. The exhibit, including the additions, will be a part of Maine Impact Week before traveling to other institutions. Its next destination is the University of Maryland.  

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