Creating Community

The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health crisis that rapidly and significantly impacted millions of lives around the globe, starting in late 2019. In response to the growing need for supporting mental health and a strong sense of community at Pitt, Jessica Burke, professor in the department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences and associate dean for education at Pitt Public Health, and Sara Baumann (BCHS '19), postdoctoral associate also in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, created a community-engaged virtual art gallery that explores resilience, social cohesion and creativity during the pandemic. They developed the project in partnership with the Pitt Vice Provost's Office to address social isolation and encourage strategies for social inclusion and cohesion during the initial onset of the spread of the pandemic in the United States. 

A wide range of art works and projects were submitted by members of the Pitt community, which explored three key themes in response to the prompt about how members of our community are staying connected. These included reflection, advocating/sharing, and engaging/collaborating. This project highlighted that approaches that embrace the arts and encourage reflection and creative thought show promise as a way to engage communities in promoting positive health and well-being, as well as foster community connections, especially in times of uncertainty. For more information about Burke and Baumann's additional creative public health approaches, visit www.collaborativefilmmaking.com

Title of Artwork: Blessings in Disguise

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Title of Artwork: COVID19, Pine Trees & The Sun

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Title of Artwork: Perspectives

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Title of Artwork: Quiero ver el sol brillar
I Want to See the Sunshine

May 1st
International Workers Day
El dia del Trabajo

Each year, I march to celebrate workers' and immigrants' rights
I remember that most times the sun shines
while participants carry signs and cardboard butterflies
Some Latinos from the community bring their children in strollers
Yes, I can spot some of our students and one or two faculty there
We dance through the streets
waiving to store owners and onlookers, laughing and chatting
The contagious happy atmosphere is exhilarating

Today, something else is contagious and there was no march to attend
Like fellow faculty, I spent the day sitting through zoom meetings
To make it more contrasting, no trace of sun in this damp day
And many local Latinos are trying to survive
Many lost jobs, many do not have any income
And others are evicted
worrying about family in detention centers
Even when paying taxes, no stimulus check has come
Nor will come

Not citizens, undocumented, illegal
I learned those words speak of lesser people
Not quite like the rest of us
Across the nation, some must work in meat procesing plants
Together with other immigrants and people of color
Fearing for their lives
Essential, yet not deserving
Useful, yet expendable

Today, I am sad and angry
Angry at injustice, 
Angry at indifference
In the end, it just increases my commitment
To change things for the better
To fight for equity
To have a more inclusive world
Where the sun shines

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Title of Artwork: Sandy

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Title of Artwork: Spring Blooms

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Title of Artwork: Spring Still Came

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Title of Artwork: Turkey in the land of risen sun

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Title of Artwork: How to create a mask from a sock

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Title of Artwork: My Hope

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Title of Artwork: Pitt OT - <3's You

collage

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Title of Artwork: COVID 19 separation and reconnection

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Title of Artwork: Crochet Elephant

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Title of Artwork: Friday Night Shabbat Service

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Title of Artwork: Peace within our boundary

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Title of Artwork: Still I'll Rise

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Title of Artwork: Sunglasses

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You can still submit your work

We continue to welcome submissions to this community-engaged art project. 

Submit your artwork