One year later, Preservation Long Island shares acquisition highlights from its “Preserving the Present: Collecting in the Time of Covid-19” initiative

In May of 2020, Preservation Long Island launched the initiative “Preserving the Present: Collecting in the Time of Covid-19” to collect art and objects that tell the diverse stories of Long Islanders living through the COVID-19 pandemic. Later that month, the murder of George Floyd sparked protests across the country against violence towards Black Americans, police brutality, and systemic racism in our country today. What developed was one of the most significant civil rights movements in United States history. Subsequently, protests and demonstrations in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement took place across Long Island, the country, and the world.

LEFT: Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartwright and family at A Wishful Gesture at Gallery North in Setauket. RIGHT: Co-organizer Tali Hinkis and family at A Wishful Gesture. Photos courtesy of Annemarie Waugh.

One year ago, artists Tali Hinkis of LoVid and Annemarie Waugh organized A Wishful Gesture outside Gallery North in Setauket. According to the organizers, the installation was a peaceful symbol that allowed the community to show support for Black lives and unity in our nation during a time of social distancing. Between June 4 and June 11, 2020, people were invited to “share wishes of love, peace, and hope by placing flowers, plants, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and messages in the courtyard at Gallery North.” Preservation Long Island is pleased to add two artworks from A Wishful Gesture to its Permanent Historic Collection: the “Protest Blanket” by LoVid and the print “Who Too Believe” by Shari Cummings. Together, they help Preservation Long Island preserve this historic moment of pandemic and protest for future generations

LEFT: Tali Hinkis, LoVid, “Protest Blanket,” 2020. Cotton, felt, synthetic fibers, dye, paint, 46.5 x 29 in. Preservation Long Island purchase, 2020.3. RIGHT: Shari Cummings, “Who Too Believe,” 2020. Digital print,12 x 15 in. Preservation Long Island purchase, 2020.4.

The issues of race and racism the artworks confront connect deeply to Long Island’s early past. For most of the colonial period, more men, women, and children were enslaved on Long Island than anywhere in the North, and today, our region remains one of the most segregated areas in the United States. Throughout world history, including right here on Long Island, people have turned to artistic expression as a form of resistance—from the writings of Jupiter Hammon, the first published African American poet, to the visual artworks left behind at A Wishful Gesture. 

Preservation Long Island is excited to give a permanent home to LoVid’s “Protest Blanket” and Cummings’s “Who Too Believe,” and through them, spark meaningful dialogue between the present and the past. In the words of Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III: “museums can often be the glue that holds nations together, provide context and understanding during periods of uncertainty, remind us of beauty and creativity during times of tragedy and loss and, maybe, help us all find hope.” (June 25, 2020 Statement, International Council of Museums, US)

In June of 2020 Lauren sat down with artists Shari Cummings and Tali Hinkis to talk about their two works of art and A Wishful Gesture

Click HERE for full bios and artist statements from Shari Cummings and Tali Hinkis 

Click HERE to learn more about Erase Racism, a Long Island-based organization that leads public policy advocacy campaigns and related initiatives to promote racial equity in areas such as housing, public school education, and community development. 

By Lauren Brincat, Curator, Preservation Long Island
Published June 2021