Emily Tironi

New York, USA

Community Dies by Emily Tironi
11"x14"; found images, mulberry paper, duct tape; 2021

Emily Tironi uses her personal experience of living with a disability and her education in Media Arts & Disability Studies to challenge societal norms regarding disability by creating art that showcases her perspective on issues impacting this oft-marginalized community. The pandemic has been a particularly difficult time for the disability population, especially when reckoning with society’s overwhelmingly negative response to being asked to help keep this community safe, a subject which she explores in her work Community Dies.

The first impression of Tironi’s collage work is one of joyful community, amid bright playful colors. The impression quickly turns darker however, as one notices the duct tape covering the mouths of the community, even its youngest members; the only exception is the large screaming mouth of the opposite figure greedily clasping their money and goods, who is paid extra attention by the frenzied photographer, emblematic of the outsized spotlight given to the powerful. Even the bright colors take on a more sinister aspect as the division between the reds and yellows are separated by text that has been transformed from its original uplifting message, “Community Ties”, into the jarring, grim reality that the disability population has had to contend with, as a consequence of others’ actions. Tironi deliberately included in her representation of this community images of those with visible disabilities, including herself as a child, and those without—signifying how a person’s vulnerability to the virus isn’t always visible, but all of their voices are being silenced to appease a self-interested majority that wants to “get back to normal”, no matter the cost. She writes about the foundation of her piece:

“My work often expresses the political subtly, but I wanted the issues in this piece to confront the viewer directly. I want the viewer to consider their individual responsibility to their entire community and the value and importance of community in all our lives, especially during difficult times.”