2020 Year Enders, Arts & Culture, Local Flavor, Our City, Sympathy for the Gallery, Video



Photo by Susan MB Chen

In April 2020, after Covid-19 changed the landscape of my work forever, I embarked on a five-week Instagram Live series with folks in the creative worlds. It was as much my way of catching up with friends, as it was a way for me to learn how the pandemic was impacting the arts. I hosted these talks every single day, sometimes twice a day, from April 14 through May 15. IG Live was still very wonky then. I couldn’t automatically save chats longer than 10 minutes (mine were 30 minutes each), so I would spend the rest of my day recording my smartphone, editing the video, uploading it to YouTube. I lost a few interviews in this process. I thought, naively, that by the end of the spring, the virus might go away, we’d all go back to work or school, and no one would be sitting around at home watching online content in lieu of actually experiencing life. The biggest joke of the century!


After a two-month hiatus, I decided to pick the series back up again in July in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. There was so much more to talk about beyond the physical virus; we were dealing with a reckoning of our hearts and minds. The seed of an idea for Praise Shadows Art Gallery started to bloom then. These guests — museum directors and curators, artists, food writers , film producers, journalists, dancers — shared so much of themselves with me. The collective voice of this group helped inform my vision for the art world that I wanted to see.


This series of talks is called Praise You and I consider them to be a time capsule of 2020. Here are 10 memorable talks:


1. Duke Riley

Artist Duke Riley gives his first public talk after recovering from Covid-19, and speaks about how the illness affected his health, and what he was doing to begin his studio practice again.



2. Eugenie Tsai

Eugenie Tsai, Brooklyn Museum curator, spoke about her walks in Manhattan, and ponders how artists practices are affected by lockdown orders.



3. Hank Willis Thomas


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Artist Hank Willis Thomas takes us on an impromptu walking tour of Brooklyn through an art and social justice lens, and talks about the Wide Awakes.



4. Michelle Millar Fisher


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MFA Boston curator Michelle Millar Fisher leads an inspiring conversation about her activism in the curatorial field, including museum unions and her project Designing Motherhood.



5. Philip Tinari

Philip Tinari, Director of the UCCA in Beijing, gives a glimpse of where the US was headed in terms of Covid-19 and museum openings/reopenings.



6. Tina Roth Eisenberg


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Tina Roth Eisenberg, designer and Founder of creative companies Tattly and Creative Mornings, talks about how she navigated running small businesses during the pandemic.



7. Paul Ha


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Paul Ha, Director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center, discusses operating a university museum during a pandemic, the virtues of Boston as an art city.



8. José Carlos Diaz

José Carlos Diaz, Chief Curator at The Andy Warhol Museum talks about looking more regionally at art, with the pandemic impacting travel, budgets, and shipping.



9. Brett Littman

Brett Littman, Director, The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, speaks about applying for the PPP, the organization’s fiscal health in the time of crisis.



10. Heather Hubbs


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Heather Hubbs, Executive Director of New Art Dealers Alliance, talks about the organization’s pivot during Covid-19, how galleries are adjusting, and what to look forward to now that its Chicago and Miami fairs are not taking place as usual.

These are listed in no particular order. They are all worth spending time with and can be found archived here: https://praiseshadows.com/talks/instagram-live-chats/. And many more guests on Praise You are worthy of this list of 10. I appreciate them all.

Yng-Ru Chen is the founder and CEO of Praise Shadows Art Gallery, a hybrid space for emerging and mid-career artists as well as well as a mentorship space for young talent. She strives to uplift unheard-of voices in the arts community, both locally and nationally.

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