New artworks by Alanis Forde, Tim Maxwell, Tom Mueske, and Joseph Pascual

Inspired by a COVID-19 computer application made by Professor David Eisenberg

Throughout history, artists have engaged and challenged the times they have lived in through the art making process. We can see this is artworks like Guernica by Picasso, which portrays the suffering of people and animals wrought by violence and chaos and was made in response to the bombing of Guernica, a Basque Country town in northern Spain, by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy at the request of the Spanish Nationalists. Another example of this is The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, an installation artwork widely regarded as the first epic feminist artwork. It functions as a symbolic history of women in civilization. The power of these works transcend their time; we can see an example of this when, in 2003, U.N. officials hung a blue curtain over a tapestry reproduction of Picasso’s Guernica at the entrance of the Security Council when talking about the Iraq war.

For over a year humanity has been facing a worldwide pandemic and is experiencing never before seen issues exacerbated by political divide and climate change. With much of the world in lock-down to reduce the spread of infection, we have seen a drastic change in the way we live our everyday life. Pandemic Polarity is an exhibition which asks four artists: Alanis Forde (Barbados), Tim Maxwell (New York), Tom Mueske (Iowa), and Joseph Pascual (California) to re-contextualize Corona Virus data and use it in their own work, and in a sense turning something tragic into something beautiful. Data from each state is turned into polar graphs created by David Eisenberg, a Silicon Valley computer scientist. Eisenberg’s application allows artists to export these polar graphs as vector line art for use in the art making process. In a time when art is seen as unessential and science is constantly in question, Pandemic Polarity combines the two to show what is possible when there is a cross-section of science and art.

Polar Graphs

Polar graphs are graphs created using polar coordinates. This is explained in the following video by David Eisenberg.

COVID-19 Polar Graph Export

The COVID-19 Polar Graph Export is a web application designed and built by David Eisenberg. It takes real-time data from USA Facts and turns them into a polar graph. These graphs can be exported in the SVG format for use in a multitude of different applications. (USA Facts Data)

You can view the polar graph exporter application here:

David Eisenberg

David Eisenberg is a programmer and instructor in San Jose, California and an early employee at Apple, when it was still known as AppleComputer. He’s developed courses for CSS, JavaScript, CGI, and XML, and teaches Computer Science at Evergreen Valley College. David has written Etudes for Erlang and SVG Essentials (O’Reilly). Please check out this interview with Eisenberg about the COVID-19 Polar Graph Export.

The Artists

Alanis Forde (Barbados), Tim Maxwell (New York), Tom Mueske (Iowa), and Joseph Pascual (California) were asked to use the polar graph export program to re-contextualize Corona Virus data and use it in their own work.

Alanis Forde

Alanis Forde is a contemporary Barbadian artist who specializes in expressionistic realism portraiture. She works mainly with oil paint and collage. Alanis attended Barbados Community College and attained her Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art. She’s been in a number of group exhibitions at Vermont Studio Center, Gallo Family Gallery, The Barbados Museum and Historical Society, and a few other non-conventional spaces. Forde has just completed her second residency at the Chautauqua Institution Visual Arts Program in New York. She’s also been featured in publications such as Sugarcane Magazine and local news sources. In the years she’s been creating, Alanis’ concepts are based primarily on the black female identity in an idealized, exotic, paradisiacal Caribbean space. Through her proxy she navigates life through paradise.

Forde wrote a short story describing the artwork she made for pandemic polarity:

An epidemic has erupted throughout the paradisiacal landscapes; Bubbles is now forced to navigate a space that has shifted. The breeze from the palm trees is the only thing that calms her during quarantine. Paradise is no longer an escape from reality. Everywhere has been affected. What will the world she live in look like in the future?

Tim Maxwell

Tim Maxwell was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1978 and lives and works in New York City. He received his BFA from Penn State University in 2002, and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2004. He has had solo shows at Marvelli, Derek Eller, and RARE Gallery and has been included in group exhibitions at White Columns and Massimo Audiello Inc. in New York, as well as Galerie Rodolphe Janssen in Brussels. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, The New Yorker and Art on Paper magazine. Each of Maxwell’s drawings is sketched out in pencil, then laboriously drawn using unruled lines which create a very specific temporal space with an infinite regress. Shadows creep in the creases, evoking little figures toiling their way through a labyrinth. Each of these architectural "constructs" is the result of the implementation of geometry in which most start with a very simple vanishing point that is multiplied as the drawing recedes to create an unsettling and alienating atmosphere.

Initially, I was completely perplexed how to integrate my style into two points. Then, after breaking things down into their essence, the chart became my friend and the process unraveled naturally.

Tom Mueske

Tom Mueske is a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute (MFA, 2007), where he received a Graduate Fellowship Award (2005). He obtained a residency at Stichting Kaus Australis, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2011). He has been featured in several exhibitions across the United States, including DENK Gallery, Los Angeles, California (2017); Haines Gallery, San Francisco, California (2008, 2007); Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, Washington (2005); New American Talent, Jones Center for Contemporary Art, Austin, Texas (2007); Architecture and Landscape, Irvine Fine Arts Center, Irvine, California (2012); Next/New, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, California (2007); and he participated in the California Biennial, Orange County Museum, Newport Beach, California (2010).

Joseph Pascual

Joseph Pascual is a Bay Area Native who lives and works in South San Francisco. His most recent work explores Bay Area Filipino heritage through the art of portraiture. Pascaul’s sculptures are exaggerated three dimensional contours of his subject’s auras with gouache paintings of the actual subject inside them. For this project Pascual painted a skull to represent the Corona Virus within the confines of the polar grid used in the polar graph application. Pascaul is a recent graduate of Skyline College and has recently exhibited his work at multiple venues in San Francisco.