In today's New York Times, a feature on the BoingBoing SARS Art Project. Also just out today, www.sarsart.org, a site created by Sixspace Gallery founder Sean Bonner — a permanent archive where all posts in this thread are gathered in one place for easy browsing. From the NYT story:
[H]istorians of folk art say the digital SARS creations are part of a long tradition of ordinary people responding to traumatic events through art, from Hmong women in Thai refugee camps using applique embroidery to portray the horrors of war in Indochina to the AIDS quilt that covered the Mall in Washington (to which people all over the country contributed) and the memento collages that blanketed New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"In one way or another, individually and as communities, we integrate our hopes and fears into the work of our hands," said Gerard C. Wertkin, director of the American Folk Art Museum in New York. "The creative instinct will always result in works of art using whatever technology is at hand to make statements about the concerns of the day."
Rebecca Hoffberger, director of the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, said the adolescent tone of some Internet SARS art also echoed folk art of the past, noting that the nursery rhyme "Ring Around the Rosy" is thought to have originated in the 14th century as a humorous description of the fatal progression of the bubonic plague. "What better way to deal with calamity but reduce it to a children's rhyme?" Ms. Hoffberger said. "In chaotic times there's a grass-roots tradition of irreverence for the party line."