Peoples' Perspectives

Scenes from the quarantine

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The day before Memorial Day, my friends threw me a Prince-themed parade from the street in front my house, with music blasting and vehicles festooned with purple signs, banners and balloons. Meanwhile, our resident juggler performed a scantily clad balancing act on top of his old-school Subaru. It was a sight to behold, and one of the most interesting things I’ve seen from our upstairs patio or living room window since the pandemic began.

My story seems like the perfect kind of fodder for Whatcom’s Art Guild’s “Out the Window” art challenge. As one of many projects centered on the new online initiative, “Peoples’ Perspectives: COVID-19 in Whatcom County,” this particular undertaking asks contributors to creatively express what they’ve seen as they spend more time at home.

“No matter what you may dream up, we hope you will share what has been important to you during these last few months by including a short narrative to accompany an artwork of yours that is relevant to the challenge,” organizers say. A few caveats: The deadline for submissions is July 12, only art created in 2020 is eligible, and the challenge is limited to Whatcom Art Guild members.

If WAG membership isn’t on the horizon for you, don’t be bummed. The goal of “Peoples’ Perspectives” is to preserve and share the quarantine experiences of those within the community by connecting them during this historic time, and there are plenty of creative opportunities to get your voice heard and your visions viewed.

For example, Allied Arts is collaborating with the project by cohosting a community exhibit inspired by people’s experiences during the COVID-19 crisis. All ages, mediums, genres and skill levels are encouraged to submit entries by July 6 that reflect how they’re feeling during this time. You’ll be required to send a high-res photo or video of the artwork, and all applications must include a brief explanation of what inspired the project. Depending on quarantine regulations, as many as nine works will be chosen for a future exhibit through the Whatcom County and Bellingham public libraries.

Additionally, the City of Bellingham is hosting a “Capturing COVID Life” photography contest; a Western Washington University senior is asking fellow 2020 graduates to archive their COVID-19 playlists for posterity; Whatcom Museum is gathering recordings of community stories and songs related to the theme that will be shared inside a geodesic recording booth known as the “Story Dome” when the venue reopens; Western Libraries at WWU is creating a digital archive of the university’s response to the pandemic from students, faculty, staff and community members; and a number of different writing and storytelling projects are also on the docket.

“Portraits From Home: Whatcom County in Quarantine,” circles back to the concept of home, and what it means in the age of quarantine. The project sees multimedia producer and photographer Michael Connolly offering free “porch portraits”—while keeping at a safe distance of 12 feet or more—and asking his subjects to share their thoughts about the unprecedented turn their lives have taken this year.

Like many of the “Peoples’ Perspectives” projects, the resulting images and words will form a time capsule of the coronavirus era, something Whatcom County Library System Executive Director Christine Perkins says is the ultimate goal.

“Our intent,” she says, “is to archive selected contributions for use by researchers, educators and journalists and as a record of this experience for future generations.”

For more information about the Peoples’ Perspectives projects, go to

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