SUMMIT, NJ - As the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent to all, Summit Public Art commissioned artist Joanie Schwarz to collaborate on an online photo series that would capture the unprecedented moment. An award-winning photographer, Schwarz spent several weeks walking the streets of Summit, capturing the City under lockdown, neighbors helping neighbors, and signs of a community taking its initial steps towards a 'new normal'.
The resulting series, In This Together, reflects both the uncertainty of the time and the resilience of the Summit community. Based on the enthusiastic response, SPA decided to make the online exhibit more widely accessible by bringing it to the Village Green. Titled Summit Under Quarantine, the outdoor exhibit features more than two dozen photographs, including some not previously seen.
The installation, which will be in place through November, is located at the intersection of Broad and Maple Streets across from the Summit Post Office.
“Public art is a reflection of how we see the world,” said Debi Schwarzmann, SPA’s Art Selection Co-Chair. “It’s the artist’s response to a moment in time combined with a sense of who we are. During the shutdown, it felt important to document the moment, bringing to light the qualities that define Summit as a special community.”
Schwarz, whose work has been on the covers of Time magazine, the L.A. Times, and the New York Times Magazine, likewise encourages people to see her quarantine photos in a positive light: “When you see the emptiness of the streets, don’t see the negative. See it as people staying home in order to keep each other safe. It is an active expression of love.”
Summit Public Art is a 100% volunteer-run, donor-funded, City organization dedicated to bringing art to public spaces throughout Summit. Since 2002, SPA has installed more than 75 pieces of temporary art throughout the community, many by artists of national and international renown. Its mission is to enhance the Cityscape by infusing it with contemporary art installations that provide public art experiences to those who live in, work in, or visit Summit.
Summit Public Art Co-Chair Marie Cohen says, “Our hope is that seeing this shared history will give even more people the chance to witness the empathy and hopefulness that got our community through those first dark days and perhaps provide a way for all of us to reframe and re-imagine our lives as we head together into the future.”