Dawn Conry

Arizona, USA

Covid by Dawn Conry
15"x72"; acrylic, pencil, paper, found images; 2022

As an analog collage artist and theatre scenic designer, Dawn Conry is influenced by the boundaries of the materials she works with as much as by the images themselves. Using scissors, scalpel, glue, ink, and acrylics to transform print images on paper or textile, she looks for the connections in unrelated images, colors, shapes, lines or patterns to create work where anything is possible. Her process of working has been undergoing a transformational shift recently as her desire to create spaces for people to make informed decisions has grown. Rather than letting the found images guide the flow of the narrative in her work, she is exploring how to intentionally guide the story to reflect events in our local or global society, with the expectation of bridging the gap between critical thinking and emotional safety.

Conry’s large-scale collage, Covid, works to bridge multiple gaps that have arisen throughout the recent global pandemic. At six feet long, the length of the piece is a physical manifestation of the safety guidelines for spacing between people that became commonplace during the pandemic, but there is also an underlying, symbolic separation between people within this six feet: the separation due to political polarization and conflicting information.

“I chose to use images from opposing sides of the issues surrounding COVID-19. I wanted to present a concept of what physical distances look like while also joining the opposing viewpoints into intimate scenarios. Having these subjects placed in such intimate proximity of one another allows for an image that is both absurd yet thought provoking. I wanted to place the idea of freedom of choice against the direct consequence of how we use our choices and that effect on others.”

Although at first glance this work may appear solely focused on the separations between two vastly different ideologies, Conry also engages directly with the space in between, where these diverse groups may share commonalities. This space is murky with indeterminate information about this virus, as people grapple with the havoc of trying to discern falsehoods from truth, but unambiguous in its portrayals of the consequences of the virus itself. The politics of handling the Covid pandemic within the U.S. has been polarized to an extreme degree, but as Conry reminds us in her collage, the virus itself does not differentiate between political parties or ideologies, but eventually affects us all.