We are excited to share Whitewall‘s Summer 2020 issue with you, available to download now. For our annual Impact Issue, you’ll find four covers featuring Amy Sherald, Remo Ruffini, Etienne Russo, and Artist Relief.
This spring, as we started to work on our annual Impact Issue, the world woke up to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the U.S. and in many other countries, we were asked to stay home—a privilege for those of us who were able to work remotely, including me.
Millions soon found themselves without jobs, the money to pay rent, to feed their own families. Essential workers and healthcare providers were not well-equipped with the proper PPE, risking their own lives to help others. In the art world, it’s resulted in canceled fairs, postponed shows, furloughed jobs, and a lack of resources for creatives. It’s been nearly three months and, while some cities are opening back up, the future remains foggy.
While we put together this issue, we spoke with artists and designers in real-time, checking in on how they were doing amid great uncertainty. We covered new initiatives like Artist Relief, a coalition of several arts organizations that quickly put together a fund to aid those affected by the impact of COVID-19. We saw brands like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Moncler, Hermès, Pyer Moss, Christian Siriano, and so many more step up by donating and making hand sanitizer, masks, PPE, etc.
Here in the U.S., the response to the health crisis was bungled again and again at the federal level. States were left to fend for themselves. Some rose to the task, others not so much. Lack of testing, medical supplies, and clear information is still a problem. And Black and Brown communities have been hit the hardest, exposing deep racial inequity in health and healthcare.
And then in late May, George Floyd was killed by the police in Minneapolis. Protests that began there spread to major cities across the U.S., then to the suburbs and rural towns, and ultimately to the rest of the world. As we go to print, protests are still taking place, fighting for justice, an end to police brutality, and in honor of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and the too many others killed before them.
At Whitewall, we stand with the protesters in the U.S. and around the world. We support Black Lives Matter. As individuals and as a company, we believe in racial equality, dismantling systemic racism, and ending violence at the hands of the police.
In the immediate moment, we asked ourselves how, as an independent publication, we could contribute to social justice causes and resources for those suffering from the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We started by offering complimentary print and digital ad space to leading organizations, like Feeding America, No Kid Hungry, Artist Relief, ILYSM, the NAACP, Equal Justice Initiative, and The Bail Project. We will continue that initiative in future print issues, as well as on our digital platform, Whitewall.art.
The art, design, fashion, and luxury worlds are historically exclusive. We will not be. We will use Whitewall and all of its media to elevate the voices of BIPOC, queer and trans artists, designers, makers, and creative leaders. We are committed to representation in not only who we feature in our pages and on our cover, but in our contributors in word and image, future hires, and advisory board.
In these pages, you’ll find interviews with Ibrahim Mahama about using his creative capital to establish a cultural institution for his community in Tamale, Ghana; Counterspace Studio about designing an inclusive, modular, malleable Serpentine Pavilion; Lily Kwong about a plant-based, homegrown revolution; Remo Ruffini and Etienne Russo about giving back to Milan; Amy Sherald about capturing extraordinary Americans; Adam Silverman about finding common ground; and Karyn Olivier about what it means to make a monument at a time when the U.S. is grappling with its dark history—and as this issue goes to print, the problematic Frank Rizzo statue has been taken down in Philadelphia and Virginia’s governor has vowed to remove its statue of Robert E. Lee.
While our conversation with Olivier took place in February, her work and the questions she asks are wildly pertinent in this moment. She told us about the memorial she’s making for Dinah, a once-enslaved woman credited with saving the historic landmark Stenton House in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. The words that will be inscribed on that memorial are a great place to start in this moment.
One is from Alice Walker: “Healing begins where the wound was made.”
The other is from Lorraine Hansberry: “Never be afraid to sit a while and think.”
Editor in Chief