Summit Under Quarantine
- by Joanie Schwarz
A New Collaboration with Photographer Joanie Schwarz
There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment. —Robert Frank
In March 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Jersey, Summit Public Art commissioned artist Joanie Schwarz to capture this unprecedented moment in our city’s history. An award-winning photographer, Schwarz spent several weeks walking the streets of Summit, showing viewers the closed shops and empty streets of a city under lockdown, neighbors helping neighbors at GRACE's "Giving Tuesday," and signs of a community taking its first small steps towards a new "normal."
The resulting series, In This Together, was an inspiring work that reflected both the uncertainty of our times and the resilience of our community. Schwarz’s photographs were shared online through social media in consideration of New Jersey’s shelter-in-place order. The overwhelming number of responses we received led us to curate these photos into an archival outdoor exhibition on the Summit Village Green. Our hope is that viewing this shared history will give even more people the chance to witness the empathy and hopefulness that pulled us together during those first dark days and perhaps provide a way for all of us to reframe and reimagine our lives as we head together into the future.
This exhibit honors Summit’s past and present mayors and all the citizens who have given their time to serve in our city government. We are grateful for the leadership that has continued to build a supportive, compassionate community for all.
“During late March, there was so much we didn’t know about the virus and the heightened uncertainty created fear. And with each new restriction, the anxiety increased. It was unnerving to see the downtown Summit suddenly vacant, the noise, the energy stilled to a surreal emptiness. Then the following realization that this scene was playing out globally—it was impossible to process.
After having been commissioned by Summit Public Art, I set out to capture the emptiness of the quarantine through the lens of my camera. The earliest photographs reflect the unanimity with which the people of Summit adapted to New Jersey’s shelter-in-place order. I was alone but for Sugar Bear, my dog, who is in all the early ‘shut down’ images because as a portrait photographer, I truly believe that every image is better with a beating heart in it.
As I traveled through town, I recognized the thousands of people dutifully remaining at home, saw essential workers courageously venturing out to ensure the hospitals ran, and I witnessed the food supply chains struggling to function. My perspective changed. I wasn’t seeing restrictions and loneliness; I was viewing ‘Love in Action.’ Out of love for family and community, people were taking action to care for themselves and others. The citizens of Summit were doing what was necessary. Their commitment to one another replaced much of the fear with hope.
And so we all move forward. Not knowing fully what is ahead.”
Joanie Schwarz has been known in the publishing world for over 25 years for her dreamlike imagery and her endless patience with children and chaos. Creating images that show unconditional love is what Joanie was born to do. Her work has been on the covers of Time, U.S. News & World Report, the New York Times Magazine, and the L.A. Times.
To see more of Joanie’s work, visit her at www.joanieschwarzphoto.com or follow her on social media @joanieschwarz.
See more photos here.
Purchase photos from the exhibition here.
Thank you to The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF) COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund for supporting this project. @NNJCF
Take a Look!
Location: Village Green – North West Quad
Media & Press
- December 2020 Newsletter from Summit Public Art
December 22, 2020
- Summit Public Art GIVING DAY CHALLENGE
December 12, 2020
- Latest News Update – October 2020
October 13, 2020
- Shutter in Place: ‘Summit Under Quarantine’ Focuses Lens on the Lockdown
October 9, 2020