University of Arizona Art Tour

Visitors take a look at the “Lessons of a Disaster” sculpture by Jacques Lipchitz displayed outside the University of Arizona Museum of Art.

The University of Arizona Museum of Art wants to showcase the 2020-inspired artwork of the Tucson community. 

The museum is putting together a virtual exhibition about the experience of 2020. That includes everything from the coronavirus pandemic and its effects, protests for racial justice, the upcoming presidential election and everything else this year has brought. 

"We wanted to create a space for people to share their thoughts about everything that has been happening," says Olivia Miller, the curator of exhibitions at the University of Arizona Museum of Art. "The arts have proven to be so valuable to people at this time of being home." 

Miller says this exhibition represents a pivot on the museum's part. After closing to prevent further spread of coronavirus, the museum postponed its earlier exhibition plans for the year. 

Instead, it will open "Picturing 2020: A Community Reflects" online, Sept. 26 through March 28. 

Artists have until Monday, Aug. 24 to submit their artwork virtually. The call to artists is open to anyone in Pima County and there is no jury. Instead, Miller says they hope to include one submission from each artist. 

"We didn't want to judge the art, because we know people aren't trained as artists but are still turning to the arts," Miller says. "What does that look like? How is it helping them express ideas and pass the time?" 

So far, the museum has received about 80 submissions in a variety of mediums, including short video pieces, photography, paintings and even a few sculptures. Miller says they are seeing some themes appear again and again — isolation, hope, missing people and travel, political commentaries and responses to the Black Lives Matter movement. The artwork communicates both shared, community experiences, but also the disparate ways people are affected, Miller adds. 

Interspersed among the community submissions, pieces from the museum's permanent collection that resonate thematically will also be included. 

And while there is still no scheduled opening date for the museum at this point, Miller says that when it does reopen, those pieces from the permanent collection should be available to view in the physical space.  

"That's the powerful thing about art," Miller says. "Maybe it was made in a particular time period, but that doesn't mean it stops taking on new meaning. Every time someone looks at it, they will look through a new lens." 

For more information and to submit art, visit the museum's Facebook event.

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