Downtown Los Angeles artists Keri Rosebraugh and Adam Guy have created a large-scale installation north of the First Street bridge in support of the global fight against the coronavirus, using 100 clay roof tiles as the medium.
“The tiles symbolize home, because they are used to make the rooftops of so many buildings in Southern California,” Rosebraugh said. “They are direct, and this whole virus is hitting everyone. I wanted to use something simple to get the point across.”
Rosebraugh and Guy lined up the tiles like dominoes, spelling out the word “virus” in 12-foot letters. The two artists then proceeded to crush the first three letters of the word with a sledgehammer and pickaxe, leaving the remaining part of the word as “us.” Guy documented the piece in photo and on video, using a camera and drone.
Rosebraugh works in Los Angeles and Marnay Sur Seine, France. Her work revolves around connections between man and nature, exploring how humans and the environment affect each other. Rosebraugh’s artwork is included in the Permanent Collection of the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Florina in Greece, in the Natural History Museum/State Darwin Museum in Moscow, as well as numerous exhibitions in Italy.
A Hawaii native, Guy is based in Los Angeles. He began his artistic study in paint, charcoal and figure drawing and later explored photography. For 10 years, Guy shot exclusively using film, until 2010 when he began incorporating digital stills and motion. He now uses a broad range of photographic techniques to create his imagery.
“Although our approach to our practices are different from each other’s, our subject matter is very similar, even though our work isn’t,” Rosebraugh said. “We both study the examination of human relationships with nature and how nature affects us, and we affect nature.”
The two artists live alone, across from one another in an industrial warehouse studio. A majority of the other residents left due to COVID-19. After both artists self-isolated for four weeks, they began planning the “virus” art installation.
“During times like these you wonder what you can do,” Rosebraugh said. “The bottom line is I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nurse. I don’t know how to sew or make masks. You know, we’re artists, so we do what we can do,” Rosebraugh said.
“A lot of my practice has to do with installations with land art and larger installations, and his (Guy) has to do with photography and video, so we merged the two together and decided to do this video to share with people that they are not alone. Everyone has their fears, and we are all trying to get through this together.”
The installation and performance art was created and executed north of the First Street bridge with the LA river and cityscape as the backdrop.
Rosebraugh said the First Street bridge with the LA River and cityscape as the backdrop was perfect for the project.
“I think it turned out to what we hoped it to be,” she said. “We really wanted a backdrop of the city, and so that specific location worked really well, and the video and drone did a really good job at showing where we were. That location is so modified by man, from the graffiti and the concrete and the buildings, and it shows the connection to man and nature—or antinature and the virus. I think it all connects works together.”
The process took the artists about three hours to execute. With social distancing in place, this installation let them share the frustration of their current challenges while conveying a public message that we are all in this fight together.
“I think in the end, the emotions all add up to a bit of grief for what’s happening and fear of the unknown. That’s part of the reason it says ‘us,’ because we will get through this,” Rosebraugh said. “There will be an us in the end of this, but we just don’t know what that us will be after this. We will not be the same—but there will be an us.”