Documentary Art at Home & Away

Introducing a Visual Collection from Early Spring

When we invited artists affiliated with the MFA EDA and the Center for Documentary Studies to contribute to “Home and Away,” part of the Arts and Artists are Essential series, it was early May—the height of the quarantine and sequester period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We asked that folks submit work by May 22, reflecting on the experience of “both the knowns and unknowns, the mundane and the sublime” in our stay-at-home isolation. Since that time—marked most significantly by the brutal killing of George Floyd on May 25—our days and concerns have shifted mightily. The simplicity of staying home, and away, is supplanted with individual and collective desires to express outrage and demand change.

These pieces pre-date that shift, and provide a reflection on a particular moment. The work presented here reveals the universal truths of what it means to be still, isolated, and observe closely, to use the documentary arts in a pure, intuitive, and personal way. Talena Sanders MFA EDA ’13, reflecting on the desire to use the isolation to make “so much new work” while also being virtually present in the lives of others, in the larger world, may say it best: “Every day is an ongoing process of striking some balance between these tensions—being gentle and human, engaging with the shape of life in the pandemic, and also being an active, ambitious artist.”

– Thomas Rankin

Director, MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts
Professor of the Practice of Art and Documentary, Art, Art History, and Visual Studies

“Home and Away”