The State of California has partnered with The Center at Sierra Health Foundation to present the Masking Series by prominent African-American visual artist Jessica Wimbley as part of a campaign to reach disproportionately impacted communities throughout the state and raise awareness of the importance of wearing masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The series features original art pieces by Wimbley featured on LED and mobile billboards, and in print and television ads in English and Spanish in 11 California markets through mid-May. The Sacramento artist’s work is also featured on signage and indoor digital displays at Sacramento’s Arden Fair Mall. An eye-catching image of a masked Wimbley is featured on a billboard overlooking Sacramento’s Oak Park, a historically Black neighborhood.
The Masking Series uses video and still, photography projected onto masks worn by people representing California’s diverse communities. The images show people taking action to protect one another, such as wearing their masks and getting vaccinated. The overlay of images in the masks references the African tradition of Masquerade—performances of masked characters used to evoke and comment upon social and spiritual matters and contribute to constructive change.
“The goal of this project is to speak to and recognize the contributions and resilience of disproportionately impacted communities, including BIPOC and essential workers, through their reflected images in the artwork and placement in public spaces where these populations reside, work and shop,” Wimbley said.
Wimbley added that the Masking Series actively portrays an African American member of the community engaging directly in harm reduction measures, conveying the importance of wearing a mask, while reflecting events and elements from the COVID-19 experiences within it.
“Masks have such a pivotal role in cultural and social expression in many African societies, and it’s been an incredible journey to bring that tradition to help combat COVID-19 in California, my home state,” she said.
“We are grateful to Jessica for her inspiring demonstration of the importance of wearing masks through her stunning and compelling artwork. It shares our ultimate goal: Californians working together to help end the pandemic,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president, and CEO of The Center at Sierra Health Foundation. “The Masking Series vividly illustrates how we can mitigate community spread of COVID-19 by continuing to wear a mask when appropriate, even after getting vaccinated. It’s an empowering reminder that every Californian can make a measurable difference in getting all of us through the pandemic and fully reopening the state.”
The Masking Series comes on the heels of the April 15 eligibility date when all California residents aged 16 and over became eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and watching our distance are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19.
To find out more information on COVID-19 vaccines and to make an appointment to be vaccinated, Californians can visit MyTurn.ca.gov or call 833-422-4255. To see Wimbley’s Masking Series, visit https://toolkit.covid19.ca.gov/partners. Learn more about Jessica Wimbley and her work by visiting www.jessicawimbley.com.