From sculptors to painters; designers to printmakers, artists across disciplines are among the 6.6 million people in the US who filed for unemployment last week. To help photographers weather the coronavirus pandemic, the New York photo and multimedia education center BKC and local artist group Seeing Collective have launched an online print gallery that stands out for its notably altruistic sales terms: one hundred percent of the net proceeds will go directly to the artists or a charitable cause of their choice.
With artwork by more than 60 artists from around the world, the Artist Relief online store also reflects the diversity of art buyers. Some prints, like Seeing Collective co-founder Megan Mack’s “Disneyworld” (2019), start as low as $25; others, such as Israeli artist Ghila Krajzman’s “Red Dresses” (202o) begin at $180. For those who may have a little extra cash these days, the accessible price points make buying art during a crisis — and supporting creatives in need — a more realistic possibility.
“By purchasing a print, you could help an artist buy groceries for a week,” BKC and Seeing Collective organizer Lanna Apisukh told Hyperallergic.
The sale is also an opportunity to help out non-art causes. Participating artist Caroline LeFevre, for example, has chosen to donate all the earnings from sales of her print “Teshima Field” (2016) to Meals on Wheels’s COVID-19 Response Fund, providing vital healthy foods to older, at-risk adults who need to stay home now more than ever. And Brooklyn-based Sina Basila Hickey is directing all the proceeds of her prints to aid immigrants with expenses like food and rent.
“Our focus at BKC has always been about how we can benefit our community of artists and creatives, ” said BKC founder Justin Lin. “It felt natural to build something that could help bring some much-needed income for those without work. More importantly, we want to demonstrate how supporting each other is essential to making it through this pandemic together.”
To reduce the number of handlers during days of social distancing, BKC is fulfilling all orders in-house from its headquarters in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood rather than outsourcing printing. According to the center’s website, all photos are printed on archival paper and “handled with care (and gloves).”
Though it has shut its doors to students and visitors, BKC’s photo school has remained active through the outbreak, hosting crash-courses on topics like camera basics and “easy stills and tabletops” on its platform BKC Live. It’s also offering bi-monthly Photo Critiques and Photo Café, a conversation series with photo professionals, organized with Seeing Collective.
“Artists and creative freelancers like myself have been greatly impacted from the coronavirus health crisis,” said Apisukh. “With the Artist Relief initiative, we’re able to create opportunities and help independent artists survive and stay connected.”