Graphic designer Christine Sullivan learned at least one thing about herself during her childhood experience in Catholic school: She loved felt banners. She wasn’t necessarily swayed by the tenets of faith, but propaganda constructed from fabric, that did it for her. This winter, Sullivan is bringing that admiration to a community art project called Felt During Covid.
“It’s this cool material that people don’t really use, and it kind of harks back to pop art and protest imagery from the 1960s and 1970s,” Sullivan says. “I just loved making felt banners, and that’s what got me into graphic design.”
In particular, Sullivan was inspired by the art of Sister Mary Corita Kent, famous for her socially oriented screen prints. Using bold colors and a pop sensibility, Kent made art to advocate for peace during the mid-20th century. “She was really instrumental in pop art and the look and feel of protest posters,” Sullivan says.
“With CoViD, I think people are locked down and it will give them something to do,” Sullivan says. Initially, Sullivan hoped that people could work on the project in a shared space, but that hasn’t proved safe or permissible with current restrictions.
An artist in her own right, Sullivan participated in SITE Santa Fe’s Silver Linings project. She also worked as a graphic designer for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and on Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 U.S. Senate campaign. In addition, Sullivan created book designs for The New Press, which publishes books to “change minds about justice.” All of her work shares a social justice component. A year-and-a-half ago, she relocated to New Mexico with her husband.
Financed by a Santa Fe Culture Connects CARES mini-grant, the felt project is open to people of ages. To participate, artists could email Sullivan and then retrieve their art packs at the main branch for the Santa Fe Library (145 Washington Ave.) Each pack contained a 12 x 18 banner and felt letters. Artists were encouraged to experiment with additional materials and can use the lettering as they see fit.
The only requirement for artists is to express how they feel about the pandemic and what they can do to prevent the spread by abiding by one of the five principles of the Santa Fe Promise. This code of conduct requires that all Santa Feans act as if they have already been exposed to the virus and could be a potential risk. Not surprisingly then, it also requires people to wear a mask.
Once the completed banners are returned, Sullivan will select 12 finalists and then hang them in the library’s main gallery. She hosts a virtual opening at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 17. Sullivan will also post pictures of entrants to Instagram (@feltduringcovid).