Lloyd Kao /The Highlander

On Thursday, Jan. 21, UCR ARTS hosted their first Third Thursday Talk of the year. This live virtual event featured talented artists who discussed their insights on their work for “Art in the Plague Year,” a virtual exhibition featuring pieces from over 600 artists worldwide.

The event started at 6 p.m. It was held on Zoom but was also live streamed on the UCR ARTSblock’s Facebook account. Douglas McCulloh, a photographer and one of the curators for the event, praised many of the pieces in the exhibition and reflected on the creation of the exhibit itself. McCulloh said, “It’s a really collaborative project” and that it “began with the virus and like the virus it eventually mutated.” He and some colleagues realized that people were still making art during the pandemic, and they wanted to create a platform for everyone’s art to be shared.

One piece that stood out to me was Sapira Cheuk’s “Pas De Deux, in the Time of Quarantine.” Cheuk is a dancer and, according to McCulloh, “She asked dancers around the world to send her pictures of them dancing and she paired them.” In a series of paintings, Cheuk connected many pairs of dancers from around the world through her art.

The attention soon turned to some of the artists that contributed to the exhibition. Antoine Williams, an artist-educator, created a piece titled “Othered Suns.” He mentioned that this piece, like many of his other works, reflects the “constant migration” of the Black community. Peter Wu made a virtual reality project inspired by “an accumulation of experiences.” He mentioned that in his art, “the environments are not too surreal, that they are kind of tied to reality.” United Catalysts, a duo consisting of Kim Garrison and Steve Radosevich, wanted to “make art that was meaningful to the community around us.” Though some of their projects were derailed by the pandemic, they were able to create a series of art inspired by rituals from across the globe.

Attendees were asked to submit questions in the Q&A feature, but it was rarely used. However, one attendee, Mikael Owunna, directed a question at Williams, asking if he could “talk a bit more about [his] sound installation and [his] influences from Sun Ra.” Sun Ra is an African American composer known for his experimental music and cosmic philosophies. Williams responded that he had “been influenced by his music … some of the sounds you hear in my piece are references to space.”

The event concluded with the artists and curators discussing amongst themselves. Each of them complemented each other’s work and shared how they will continue to work on their art amidst the pandemic. They kept the conversation lively and friendly throughout the event.

This event was informative and helped showcase the works of many hardworking artists. It created a community for them to share their work with others while still maintaining social distance. Be sure to check out the exhibition at “Art In The Plague Year.”