On March 15, 2020, we learned that our studios would close because of COVID-19. We had one day to go in and collect what we needed, but for how long—no one knew. I grabbed my sewing machine, various fabrics, yarns, wires, glue and other collage materials. My dining room table became my pandemic studio. It was smaller, in full view of my family, and it lacked the freedom to be as messy as I needed to be! As a found object artist, the virus made me have to rethink the objects that would inspire me. I started collecting from within my house, sewing collages with whatever I could find. The drive to keep working and my need to visually journal what was going on around me, is how the Pandemic House came to be.
I came up with the idea for the first panel one Sunday when The Boston Globe published more than twenty-five pages of obituaries. I spent the day reading each one, then sewing them together like a quilt. This was my way to honor those who died.
I kept thinking of the movie “Groundhog Day.” Every morning was the same as the next. I love my family, but it was getting claustrophobic in the house. Online school, disappointment as important life events were cancelled, cooking, cleaning, and worrying constantly—it was taking a toll on all of us. The coffee filter panel represents that feeling of the days all melding together and the clothing panel has the representation of each family member who was with me during quarantine.
When George Floyd was murdered, I put my anger and disgust to work on a new panel. The United States was breaking apart before my eyes–riots, protests, racism, division. “Hate Has No Home Here” and the frayed American flag collage came together in a fury of anger and fear!
The house shape for this sculpture made sense to me. We were all living through all these events within our homes. My welding equipment is housed in my garage, which made it convenient to fabricate a structure with the scrap metal that I had accumulated.
The final title for this piece is “Once Upon A Time: Pandemic House.” I long for the day when this name is part of the stories we tell about a time gone by.
Copyright © 2020 Rebecca McGee Tuck
Rebecca McGee Tuck is a fiber artist, a sculptor and a collector of lost objects. After taking a 25 year hiatus from art school to raise her family, Tuck earned her BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2019. Her work is a visual narrative of what she accumulates from a throwaway society and as a result she gives new life to what others discard. Tuck has shown her work in multiple juried shows throughout New England including the Beacon Gallery and the Fountain Street Gallery. She recently won the Present Tense Award from ArtsWorcester, which recognizes an artist whose work exemplifies new practices, artistic risk-taking, and excellence in execution. Tuck works among her collection of debris from her studio at the Mill Contemporary Art Studios in Framingham.