Dist of Columbia

Artist's statement

Full Artist's statement

Time and change are overarching themes in my art. I examine transformations in our daily lives, over years, and through history. I often construct a conceptual framework that uses sequencing, grids, or overlapping images of various opacities. 


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone worldwide. My series Dear Customers examines changes to businesses and institutions in one Washington, D.C. neighborhood. In May 2020, I photographed signs - primarily along Wisconsin Avenue from Tenley Circle to Friendship Heights - that inform the public of their establishments’ modifications due to the pandemic.  Chain stores, small independent operations, schools, a library, and religious institutions are documented. Signs vary from corporate and professionally produced to handwritten with a personal touch. Their size, color, and manner of display is diverse. Some are professionally hung while others are makeshift and improvised. The establishments have adapted their operations with temporary closings, reduced hours, curbside pick-up, and/or moving operations online. These differences reveal much about each establishment.


I compiled these photographs into six grids of 21-22 photographs and included addresses and headlines from the Washington Post. The grid format enables comparisons of the various approaches and emphasizes the large number of establishments in this neighborhood and their myriad ways of coping. The headlines on the left provide context on the pandemic and addresses on the right document location. The size of each panel size is variable ranging from 50 x 44 inches to 60 x 53 inches. This large size allows viewers easily to examine salient details in the individual photographs which are approximately 6.5 x 9.75 inches or 7.9 x 11.75 inches. My documentary-style photographs often include the illusion of layers. In addition to the informational sign, many photos include interior views, architectural details, and reflections of myself and the surrounding neighborhood. The meaning extends beyond a recording of signs and becomes a neighborhood portrait. 






All work by Gail