Sadie Shaw organizing SaludArte project of COVID-inspired art
Arts Foundation, Pima County Health Department working together on public art about pandemic
A new program called SaludArte will be an opportunity for Pima County residents to reflect their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be led to Sadie Shaw, a local artist and member of the TUSD Governing Board.
Shaw will oversee the project as the new community design manager for the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona.
Shaw said has been volunteering for the Arts Foundation "for years." Plus, she has had experiences as an activist and community advocate that have prepared her for the work she'll be doing for the nonprofit group.
SaludArte is a partnership between the organization and the Pima County Health Department.
In addition to incorporating the stories of Tucson-area residents, the project will also "select local artists to create interpretative representations of those experiences and co-coordinate a countywide cultural health and wellness fair upon the arts' completion."
Shaw and project organizers will determine which ZIP codes were hit the hardest by COVID-19 and create art installations in those places.
Her previous experiences with how illnesses affect different communities inspired her to employ art as a way to provide emotional relief after hurtful events.
"My cousin had died. He had been sick for some time, but he didn't have health insurance. He was still waiting to get the one through his job," Shaw said. "Art was a way for me to deal with that."
"You know, COVID isn't the only one," Shaw said. "There are many illnesses that can be treated through the same lens."
Shaw found an outlet in art to work through her grief. She also knew that with her cousin dying, stories about her community went with him.
She decided to compile oral histories. Shaw served as the president of the Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association from 2018 to 2020, and created a mural in the neighborhood's Bronx Wash.
A Tucson native, Shaw went to the University of Arizona for her BFA in art and visual culture education, which she earned in 2019.
The Arts Foundation job is a paid position for Shaw. Her seat on the Tucson Unified School District board is a volunteer elected post.
The Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona is funded by the city of Tucson, Pima County, and grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. The group, formerly known as the Tucson Pima Arts Council, was founded in 1984 and manages public art processes for the city and county.
Bianca Morales is TucsonSentinel.com’s Cultural Expression and Community Values reporter, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.