Vax To Get Back
Vax To Get Back is a hyper-local, artist-driven, public health campaign. In the summer of 2021, Arts Alliance Illinois contracted artists with deep local ties and supported them in shaping and carrying out artistic projects and events promoting vaccination, and ultimately connected community members with vaccinations. Check out all the projects below!
“VaxZine” by The ArtBar
An artistic and informative zine publication featuring written and visual art from community members.
“Back the Vax Festival” by Jennifer Byrne Evans
A pro-vaccine community event with visual artists, musicians, and a mobile vaccine unit. Back the Vax Festival also features a homemade confetti cannon shot off for every vaccine received, as well as doctors available for Q&A.
“Chicano Times” by George Gutierrez
“We Vibe 2 Vibe” by Jalen Woodson
“The Color of Vaccine, Parts I and II” by Dion McNeal
A documentary and live panel discussion addressing medical mistrust. The Color of Vaccine I asks BIPOC community members questions, and features their experiences, stories, and collective creative expressions. The Color of Vaccine II addresses health inequality and fosters a dialogue amongst community members, medical experts, and acclaimed historians around the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Jump4Joy” by Phantasia Terrell
“I got my shot!” The video montage Jump 4 Joy features youth performing jump rope skills and tricks alongside their personal reflections on “what being vaccinated means to me.”
“Medicated” by Dominique Stevenson, aka V8 Vast Change
“Medicated” is a detailed song expressing the pain of losing a loved one to COVID-19 and the struggle that so many people faced through the pandemic. The song ends stressing the importance of receiving the vaccine to stay healthy and to save lives.
“What’s been great about this project…it gives people who are creative the opportunity to be those community leaders that our community needs.”
-filmmaker Dion McNeal from Bloomington, Illinois
“Ebb and Flow: Hamlet” by Stone Soup Shakespeare / Julia Stemper
A series of Hamlet performances to gather community members and share information about the COVID-19 vaccine. At the performances, artists referenced vaccination as being part of the reason Stone Soup is able to perform live for the community.
“Operation Lighthouse” by Kevin Lucas Experience
A series of performances in partnership with the Good Samaritan Homeless Shelter and local food pantry. The performances served as fundraisers and pro-vaccination events. In promoting the performances, folks were also encouraged to get vaccinated.
“Safe Space” by Najaar Abdul-Musawwir
CENTRALIA / MT. VERNON / RURAL SOUTH CENTRAL
“Don’t Miss Your Shot” by Brittani Singleton
Don’t Miss your Shot is a series of poster illustrations and animations depicting folks receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and featuring healthcare workers. These pro-vaccine artworks encourage other community members to get the vaccine.
“Vaccines For All” by Sophia Pennington
“Food for the Soul” featuring Maurice Hayes and Sarah Havens
Food for the Soul is a series of arts workshops bringing community members together with artists to explore ideas, fears, and aspirations related to the impact of COVID-19, and for surviving on the community’s own “Soul Food.” Food for the Soul workshops included making posters that were displayed in the community.
“Outside” by TaQsem
This collaborative upbeat song and video encourages people to come togther and help fight Covid-19 by getting vaccinated and social distancing. This song promotes taking the respsible action of getting vaccinated and social distance so that we could enjoy our freedom with everyone! This video highlights local buisnesses, outdoor festivites, and unity.
“Because of You, I Can Play” by Mike Wilcott
A video series highlighting the stories of local athletes and community members enjoying outdoor sports and activities. The message, “because of you, I can play” emphasizes how getting vaccinated is making it possible for kids and adults alike to get outside and play again.
“Lust for Life” by Shani Goss
This eye-catching design features bright colors and a pro-vaccination message. The artist originally created a painting, and then expanded her design to create stickers, buttons, and social media graphics.
“Vacunate” by Fernando Ramirez
Vacunate (to get vaccinated) is a letter design sculpture displayed at the Mexican Cultural Center DuPage. It features a flower decoration by Martha Ocampo.
“Stillness” by Nolan McCants
This photo essay features stunning images captured during the COVID-19 stay at home order. The artist provides a story narration of what he sees, “the rare sight of the normally bustling streets to Chicago laying quiet and bare. The disruption of life as usual. The fear that gripped us all. The hope of returning to some sense of normalcy as we reflect on the way it was.”
“Vax to Get Back” by George Berlin
This upbeat musically animated PSA created in the artist’s signature whimsical style helps promote a pro-vaccination message. Enjoy the original music mix by DJ Skoli with samples performed by Mind Exchange Music and George Berlin.
“A Breath of Fresh Air” by Ryan Jolly
This animated film tells the story of a student in quarantine, taking online classes at home. Once they receive the COVID-19 vaccine, they come out of the pharmacy and take a well-deserved breath of fresh air.
“…I have strong relationships with the artists in the region, am knowledgeable of their capabilities and am aware of their reputation within the community. Because of this, I was able to hand-select four highly qualified artists with deep connections to their specific demographic…”
-Deborah Venezia, DuPage County captain
EAST ST. LOUIS
“The Syringe Exhibition, Syringe Sculpture” by Andrea Serna
A large scale art piece placed on site at a local hospital that beautifies how people view syringes. The piece is part of “The Syringe” exhibition, a health awareness rally and series of events where pro-vaccination t-shirts and other gift items were given to the community.
“The Syringe Exhibition, Timeline T-shirts” by Chandler Jack Jr
A part of the Syringe Exhibition, this community give away project includes a printed timeline of the history of fatal diseases and how vaccines have helped prevent their spread. It also includes t-shirts with graphics of syringes and other doctors tools. Both were given away at five local community centers to encourage folks to take vaccines seriously and see them as a means of protecting the community.
EFFINGHAM /MATTOON/RURAL SOUTH
“Vaxed Up” by Abby Hartke
These digital posters resemble the historic image of Rosie the Riveter and feature folks showing off their vaccination bandage. They include the slogan “We Can Do It! Vaxed Up.”
“Return to Your Passions” by Liz Jackson
These posters in a vintage, Art Deco style encourage people to get vaccinated to be able to do the things they love with the people they love. These posters were shared at the public library.
“Who are you getting vaccinated for?” by Tytia Habing
This campaign asks “who are you getting vaccinated for,” and features portraits of “people we love,” friends, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and children. Images were printed as posters and shared at the public library.
“Visual Art” by Erin Rehberg
Five LatinX artists created pro-vaccination works of art. Art works were used to create yard signs, posters, buttons and stickers which were shared with community members at vaccination events which also included live art making.
“#vaxthatthingup” by Joel Filmore
A drag show with a pro-vaccination message featuring lip synching along with dialogue and comedy between performances. The event was held in Wing Park on Elgin’s west side, was free and open to the public, and featured a number of community partners from Greater Elgin Family Care Center to Open Door Health Clinic to Side Street Studio Arts.
“#vaxtogetback with American Maniacs Unlimited” by Luke Van Marter
A video featuring characters, American Maniacs Unlimited, along with medical professionals and community leaders, encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
GALENA / RURAL NORTH
“Vaxed” by Tony Barbosa
A multi-media artwork inspired by an image of the artist’s friend. The friend went through a difficult time having been diagnosed with COVID-19. Despite having the illness, she is still wanting to get the vaccine. The artwork was displayed at a local coffee house.
“FREE Hugs…I’m vaccinated” by Cindy Tegtmeyer
A performance art piece where the artist, who is vaccinated, stands in different areas of the community and offers hugs to strangers. She has a sign reading “Free Hugs, I’m Vaccinated,” as well as information for where to get the vaccine. She is also accompanied by a young singer/songwriter playing the ukulele.
“Don’t Hesitate, Vaccinate!” by James Salazar
A digital art piece featuring the arms of two people who received the vaccine with the slogan “Don’t Hesitate, Vaccinate!” The piece communicates a sense that we are all in this together to help motivate others to get vaccinated.
GALESBURG / RURAL WEST
“Inhibited Growth” by April Jackson
This set of two paintings depicts a weeping willow at sunset and an Italian cypress tree at sunrise, with face masks hung on them. The paintings represent the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine and also serves as a memorial to those lost in Knox County, Illinois.
“Creatures Against Covid!” by Janis Mars Wunderlich
A series of humorous and relatable images featuring quirky “animals in action.” The images are accompanied by a catchy phrase to encourage audiences to get vaccinated.
“Digital Comic/Poster” by Karl McNaught
A short comic created to combat vaccine disinformation by illustrating how the COVID-19 vaccine works. The comic was shared digitally and printed on posters to be distributed at farmers markets and art markets.
“Mediate, Alleviate, lets liberate…. It’s time to vaccinate!” by Christine Nordstrom
This video features original music and local artists sharing pro-vaccination messages. The video has elements of comedy while maintaining a serious tone to encourage folks to get vaccinated.
“We Can Do It” by Angelica Aguilar
These two highly stylized poster illustrations feature pro-vaccination messages. One poster depicts a modern day Rosie the Riveter with a bandaid on her arm, holding her vaccination card. The second features a person flicking the COVD-19 molecule off their shoulder, unfazed.
“Vaccinate & Create” by Erick “ROHO” Garcia and Ellis Wright
A video of a saxophone musician performing alongside an artist live painting.
“Why I Got Vaccinated” by Ben Swank
This comedy vlog features the actors posing as social media influencers. After seeing the online hype around getting the vaccine, they realize immediately they need to get one. The actors also interview people in downtown Waukegan about why they got the vaccine. They add humor by thinking people are getting vaccinated just for social media popularity.
“Freed to Love” by Everett Reynolds
Freed to Love is a mural symbolizing love and unity in the community, and freedom from the restrictions caused by COVID-19.
“Smiling Eyes” by Israel Carranza
This video and series of photographs captures portraits and candid moments of folks who recently received the COVID-19 vaccine. The video also features commentary from community members about how getting the vaccine made a difference in their life.
“Without the arts, we’re missing out on generations of movements and opportunities to really evolve as a society.”
-filmmaker Dion McNeal from Bloomington, Illinois
Arts on the Green
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Raue Center for the Arts presents a new outdoor summer series of music, featuring musicians Lynne Jordan, Philip Hamilton, Corky Siegal, and Derrick Procell.
“BIPOC Vaccination poster” by Alex Velazquez Brightbil
Alex Velazquez Brightbill created a design to promote vaccinations amongst BIPOC women in our communities, the poster image is the Artist herself posing in an empowering Rosie the Riveter pose, with pride in vaccination band it , with a bilingual message in English and Spanish. The poster was created as a linocut print with a rainbow background
“Vaccination Poster/print” by Anne Kelly / Expressions Studio
Expressions Graphics produced limited edition hand-pulled prints promoting vaccinations; 50 additional multiples for posting in west suburban communities.
“Your Health is the Community’s Health, Save the City, Get the Shot” by Amina Malik
Amina Malik’s digital poster reads, “App Ki Sehat, Samajh Ki Sehat, Teeka Lagwaein, Shehar Bachaein,” which translates to “Your Health is the Community’s Health, Save the City, Get the Shot.” The poster encourages folks to get vaccinated, and evokes a sense of collective health and well being, which is what the COVID-19 vaccine is intended to do.
“Joy Beams” by Hattie Lee
This watercolor and gouache painting uses vibrant colors and abstract patterning to represent how the COVID-19 vaccine is an entryway to hope, joy, and vibrancy.
“Vaccinate So We Can Kiss Again” by Hannah Offutt
This chalk pastel and watercolor drawing features two non-binary African American people embraced in a kiss. They have bandaids on their arms showing they received the COVID-19 vaccine.
“COVID Conversations: Vaccine Hesitancy in the Black Community” by Aubrey Barnes
A collaboration between Heartland Connections and Black Thoughts podcast, COVID Conversations blends dialogue and art into one event. The conversation features individuals in the black community discussing vaccine hesitancy and the advantages of getting vaccinated.
“Burst Your Bubble” by Riley Ellis
In this animation, the characters are living in a grayscale world except for their own 6ft. Bubbles of color surrounding them. When a character gets the COVID-19 vaccine however, their bubble bursts and the whole world of color opens up to them again.
“Adams County Health Department Mailer + Posters” by Jenna Seaborn
A two-sided graphic design piece mailed to Adams County residents to promote COVID-19 vaccination. The piece features an infographic about the safety of vaccine.
“Celebrating Covid Heroes” by Patrick Parsons
A mural designed by a local student in support of the COVID-19 vaccine. The mural will be painted in the Adams County Health Department to insprie people to get vaccinated, not only to protect themselves, but also those who are not yet able to receive the vaccine.
“Q-Fest Live Art” by Jaycie Womak-Spake
A mixed media piece incorporating painting, drawing, and collage that illustrates the relationships we have with those we love and want to protect. The work was created during Q-Fest, a community festival, in partnership with the Adams County Health Department, where the vaccine was available to communtiy members.
“Starks Studios Video PSAs” by Ryan Stark
A series of videos featuring community members describing why they decided to get vaccinated. Folks express how vaccination can allow people to work in person again and build community, to experience live music again together, and to protect children so they can return to dance classes.
“The partnerships were great, and it was WONDERFUL to have helped get people vaccinated. Two of the projects have semi-permanent installation spaces so those will have long lasting impact.”
-Laura Sievert, Quincy captain
“Female Energy Show with Speakers on Vaccination Experiences” by Evangelina Jiminez
An all woman vending show highlighting Rockford creators. The event featured over 20 vendors and an open-mic “vaccination experience” stage.
“AET Vaxx to Get Back PSA” by Richard Raether/Artists Ensemble Theater
A public service announcement video featuring 11 productions from Rockford’s Artists’ Ensemble Theater. The message is intended to encourage audiences to get vaccinated in order to welcome them back to the theatre.
“‘Do it for Me’ Vaccination Poster” by Laura Gomel
A poster designed by an art teacher featuring self-portraits created by her students. The poster reads “Do It For Me,” and was printed and distributed and also shared on social media.
SOUTH SUBURBAN CHICAGO
“Do It For Us” by Daniel Christain
This collaborative video features children from the community expressing why it is important to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The video also features some youth sharing their visual artwork.
“Give This Child a Future Without COVID-19” by Patrick Thompson
This acrylic on canvas painting expresses the importance of ensuring children have a healthy environment to grow up in. The artist sees COVID-19 as a serious community health concern. If everyone gets vaccinated it will keep people safe.
“Healing Write Now! The Voices of Our Youth” by Joseph A. Woods
“Feelin’ Fine” by Ren Nickerson and Mark Beanblosson of Idle Oath, and Mike Noes
“Feeling Fine Since I got Mine!” An upbeat animated video, accompanied by a positive song, expressing a pro-vaccination message.
“Salsa Dance Party” by Julio Barrenzuela
A community event fueled by music, dance, food, and a full blown bouncy house for children to enjoy! The event also included a vaccination station where folks could get their COVID-19 vaccination questions answered and get vaccinated on site.
“Spoken word and video” by Reggie Guyton
“The opportunity to engage new artists to reach new audiences was quite valuable. This project helped the Springfield Area Arts Council reach some of its diversity goals while promoting public health.”
-Sheila Walk, Springfield captain
These projects were made possible by the work of regional partners including:
Jennifer Byrne Evans, City of Aurora
Rhys Lovell, McLean County Arts Center
Chuck Benya, Carbondale Community Arts
Joshua Favors, The Brothers of Invention
Deborah L. Venezia, DuPage Foundation
Jerry Johnson, Decatur Area Arts Council
Andra Lang, Lang of Art Studio
Erin Rehberg, Side Street Studio Arts
Cindy Tegtmeyer, Galena Center for the Arts
Tuesday Cetin, Galesburg Civic Art Center
Sue Regis, Sue Regis Glass Art / Joliet Arts Commission / Burnt District Prison Artists (Old Joliet Prison)
Catherine Game, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods
Johnna Schultz, Effingham Public Library
Shannon Cox, Peoria Art Guild
Kevin Maynard, Quad City Arts
Laura Seivert, Arts Quincy: Society of Fine Arts
Kate Kilgore, Rockford Area Arts Council
Sheila Walk, Springfield Area Arts Council
Samuel M. Smith, University of Illinois Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Richard Kuranda, Raue Center for the Arts
Sarita Smith Childs, SS Connelly Consulting, LLC
Valerie Nicholson, Southland Arts