Every community has its own ways of relating to the pandemic. Creatives who understand the local culture can play a role in delivering messages and public safety practices best understood by residents. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, local artists led efforts to beautify the San Francisco Chinatown neighborhood, blighted overnight with vacant storefronts and boarded-up windows. Artists groups, Paint The Void and Collective Action Studio, partnered with community partners, Chinatown Community Development Center, Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, and San Francisco Chinatown Visitor and Information Center, to identify storefronts and outdoor dining in need of messages of public health safety, hope, beauty and resilience.
Paint the Void and Collective Action Studio drew from their network of artists, and paired those artists that live in or have strong ties with Chinatown with a business looking for an arts partnership. The artists then proposed their designs to businesses, got feedback from the business, and then created the installations. Collective Action Studio’s Justin Hoover said the work is a way to “bring an uplifting message to the community.” These works tap into collective imagination as well as helping small businesses stay visible despite being closed or with limited service.