ABOVE PHOTO: An Example of the eccentric and unique art projects around the city from HAHA x Paradigm exhibition.
By Afea Tucker
Ginger Rudolph dedicates even more of her time creating change in Philadelphia neighborhoods by providing families with access to public art during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are trying to create change in the neighborhood with art,” Rudolph, owner of HAHA [pronounced ‘ha-ha’] magazine and HAHA x Paradigm exhibition curator, said.
“It is important for people to understand what the power of art can do for a community and we’re slowly building that and are slowly starting to see people change,” she added.
Rudolph curates eccentric and unique art projects, including Visit Philadelphia’s recent #SisterlyLove project for Women’s History Month and collaborations with HAHA Magazine and the Paradigm Art Gallery, merging national artworks with local experiences.
“I want to expose people to the different types of mediums that are out there in the art world because it is constantly changing,” Rudolph said. “We provide experiences for people who wouldn’t ordinarily have access [to art].”
HAHA Paradigm is an extension of HAHA Magazine. It’s a blending of the magazine and the Paradigm art gallery, which is located at Fourth and Fitzwater.
“HAHA is focused on what’s going on around the world with contemporary art and connecting people to that,” Rudolph said.
Creativity is needed during this time of crisis.
“The arts are keeping us alive while we’re at home,” Rudolph said. “The pandemic is forcing us to look at art in a different realm. I think that even more so now, I really believe in public art.”
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, HAHA Magazine also partnered with the Broad Street Ministry, Mural Arts of Philadelphia, the Streets Department, and local artists to create and install a series of handwashing stations around the City of Philadelphia.
One station includes a huge piece of public art in the background illustrating how to take precautions against COVID- 19. It states “wash your hands and stay six feet apart from others” and illustrates people with masks on and properly spaced apart.
“At the end of the day, we are in this together,” Rudolph included in her Instagram post about the installment.
People who create public art are still producing work in the city streets — which are technically still open — and are serving as both their canvas and venue. They are sending messages of hope and despair with coronavirus-inspired public art.
“We all sort of have been a little bit downtrodden these past few weeks,” Rudolph continued. “Now more than ever, what’s better than to have people come outside and be able to look at public art again; to see something creative, brilliant, beautiful and inspiring if we come out of this quarantine or when we ever come out of this quarantine.”
Most art galleries and museums responded to the virus by providing new ways for people to experience art online through viewing rooms and other virtual learning experiences.
“I really think that art sometimes is very intimidating for people,” Rudolph explained. “It can feel very elitist, and a lot of times people don’t visit galleries or museums because they feel like either they aren’t welcomed inside those spaces, or aren’t represented inside those spaces. Or sometimes it just really comes down to the fact that we can’t afford to take our family there unfortunately, and often culturally we aren’t made aware of these things.”
“Because more art is available online these days and you don’t have to leave your home or go into a museum, because now you can’t go into a museum, you really don’t feel intimidated,” she continued. “Museums are forced to be inclusive, and so are we.”
“I love the fact that for example, Alvin Ailey, you can watch the performances online,” Rudolph added. “You can see all types of performances online and broadway shows. PBS is coming to kids in very different ways, even Sesame Street. I’m on Instagram just to keep up with the messages of hope that Elmo gives out to the kids. I can then translate that into my art projects.”
According to a recent article published on The Economist, streaming services are the most obvious beneficiary of a populace cooped up indoors. A recent report from marketing research firm Nielsen, suggests that the crisis could lead to a 60% increase in the amount of content streamed.
“I think that technology is a platform that most of us are on,” said Rudolph.“I’m still acknowledging that some people don’t have access to laptops, and they don’t have iPhones which is why I always kept HAHA free.”
Rudolph uses her platforms on social media and HAHA’s websites to break art down into a very basic form to further help people enjoy and understand the beauty and intricacy of art.
With many of us being quarantined, learning about art can be the perfect mental lockdown escape.
“I don’t think it needs to be that difficult to understand and art should be something that we all should have a right to,” she said..“A lot of what I take is popular culture or contemporary art that I think is very important for people to know about it. I just very simply explain it. Whether you like it or not, that is up to you. All art is objective. I just want you to feel like I can get this, and if I can learn it, I can take it a step further.”
Local artists and our local art community have been hit hard economically. Which is another reason why Rudolph stresses that now is one of the best times to support artists and art institutions during this unprecedented period.
“I have always mostly been working online, but of course we can’t go outside and do much with the neighborhood associations the way we used to,” she said. “So again, it’s forcing us to think about arts in a different realm. If anything I feel like we are shouldering a responsibility.”
Many creatives and content creators are running out of the means and resources to produce the antidote.
“A lot of our artists and their shows got cancelled, and I thought to myself if their shows get cancelled then no one sees the art, no one buys the art, and then our artists don’t make money,” Rudolph explained. “So we scrambled around and filmed a show that would allow us to display the work virtually.”
“We are trying our best to support our clients with moving [pre-coronavirus] projects forward,” Rudolph concluded.