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UMaine spreads information about COVID-19 vaccines through creative art exhibit

Students and other art contributors have one mission, to use art to fight the fear and hesitancy people might have about getting the vaccine.

ORONO, Maine — Artists from all over the world have joined forces to create a rotating exhibit expressing the intersection between creativity and COVID-19.

The University of Maine in Orono is the first host for this traveling exhibit, where students have added their own creations, but also contributions from 18 other countries.

The "Covid vs. Creativity" display, focuses on the COVID-19 vaccines and facts about its distribution.

"By using images that are move approachable, instead of statistics," said Susan Smith, the UMaine Intermedia program director.

Smith said as an educator, she wants her students to learn the impact and responsibility they have as artists.

"They are not just making work necessarily in the studio that goes into a gallery space, they have a responsibility that they can bring things like these images to people in a way they can relate," Smith said.

Smith brought the work that was already happening and brought her students on board at a time of hesitancy and distrust by many.

"It's something that has really shown the power of artists getting together with scientists, philosophers, and just every day people that just want to do something, and that often is the way I feel to get through this...the way to feel better about it is to feel like you are contributing to something," said Susan Smith.

Smith said the exhibit's goal is to promote awareness, she looks at it with two primary purposes in mind.

"We want us to be protected here at the university so that we can get back to regular classes and safe interactions, but also to acknowledge our state and our privilege here in Maine, we've done a great job of getting people vaccinated and so we also need to recognize all of those people who are still waiting," said Smith.

Students and other art contributors have one mission, to use art to fight the fear and hesitancy people might have about getting the vaccine.

"We are people that our areas is visual communications, so if we put more effort into these areas...we can actually get more and more people to care about the subject," says Arturo Camacho, a PhD student who contributed with the creation of the exhibit.

This exhibit is part of a wider "Free the vaccine for COVID-19" push all across the world. 

"The university is the first host for the traveling exhibit," said Smith.

It will stay in Orono at the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center across from the student recreation center, for two more weeks, hoping to reach as many Mainers as possible.

"It became very politicized and people were very skeptical about science in general," said Adriana Cabalcan, a UMaine grad student from the intermedia program. "We need to raise our flags to shows it's ok, we can trust science." 

"More of us can kind of be ambassadors to say 'hey, I'm protected, I want you to be protected," added Smith.

"An opportunity for many people to share their thoughts, their feelings, and their process in this past year," said Anna Martin, a PhD student at UMaine

The exhibit at UMaine in Orono is open to the public every weekday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through April 16.

After that, the exhibit will be packed and sent to other universities across the United States. Students from each university that hosts the exhibit, will keep adding their own unique art to it.

A virtual exhibit can be accessed here.