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Facing Forward, Looking Back 2022

Facing Forward, Looking Back is a collaborative installation by Evan Rumble and Sarah Simmons.  Students, teachers, and bus drivers have been subjected to the decisions of local and national authorities and the judgement of their local communities, while not always being able to have their own voices respected.  COVID has taken a persistent place in our peripheral view, impacting our decisions, actions, and words.  Facing Forward, Looking Back allows visitors to read messages written about and by students, teachers, and bus drivers while facing forward looking through face shields and looking back into the reflected statements in school bus mirrors.  The shields provide an intimate view, while the mirrors reflect back a larger view that is necessary for any forward movement.  As we have become accustomed to floor signs telling us how to distance and where to stand throughout the pandemic, yield signs on the floor guide visitors to the shields and the mirrors and ask visitors to bend to, surrender to, and bear the various meanings of the messages.  While Rumble and Simmons were aware of each other’s artwork, their first dialogue was about a collaboration and began with Instagram messages. In true pandemic fashion, Rumble and Simmons planned and created all the elements for this installation remotely, only communicating through text messages and pictures.  

REpurposing Text and Textile

Dig, 2022

Dig is a collaborative sculpture by Evan Rumble and Sarah Simmons.

Between March 2020 and December 2021, 11949 people died from COVID, or COVID related complication in the 32 counties surrounding Pittsburgh.  With lower population numbers and density, we did not see the dramatic totals of loss that larger metropolitan areas experienced.  In the Pittsburgh region, the intersection of the Appalachia and the rust belt, we have traditionally labored intensely in coal, and steel, mostly outside of the interest of the rest of the country.   In this way we have continued to labor through our losses in this pandemic, intensely and quietly. 

Dig, is a memorial to the 11,949 lives lost in this region due to COVID.  The shovel is ready to lift, hold and carry the memory of each person who was lost to us.  Visitors are encouraged to write the name or a message on a red paper memorial mask and add to our collective pile of grief.   Beginning with a ratio of one mask per 100 deaths, our ratio will climb closer to equal as people contribute memories and names. We are always stronger together, sharing the load of our loss and pain, while lifting and holding our memories of life and the celebration of our departed loved ones.