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Arts Playlist: Unmasked - Portraits from the Zoom Room

Unmasked:  Portraits from the Zoom Room
Unmasked: Portraits from the Zoom Room

A new exhibition at The Mill Space in Wilmington offers an artistic spin on life in a Zoom room.

In this week’s Arts Playlist, Hersh joins Delaware Public Media’s Kelli Steele about her work in Unmasked - Portraits from the Zoom Room.

Delaware Public Media's Kelli Steele interviews artist Nanci Hersh

The COVID pandemic ushered in many changes, including one reflected in the latest work from Delaware artist Nanci Hersh.

Hersh’s new exhibition - Unmasked: Portraits from the Zoom Room - taps into one of the biggest changes - virtual meetings via Zoom.

“There we were in a staff meeting (in) March 2020 - and I started looking at the screen, looking at myself and looking at my team members and thinking how bizarre this was," Hersh said. "And then once I got past that, I started thinking how interesting it was - because all of a sudden I was looking into my colleagues' homes.”

Hersh says she feels the surreal and voyeuristic feel of Zoom gave people a view of each other “unmasked” - for better or worse.

And she tried to capture that by taking Zoom screenshots from meetings she was attending and turning them into paintings.

Hersh’s Unmasked: Portraits from the Zoom Room features 26 Zoom Room portraits in acrylic based her screenshots.

“One of the things that I had was a small scroll of synthetic non-woven paper - it’s probably a form of Tyvek," Hersh said. "And it’s 26 inches wide so I cut it to mimic the dimension of a (computer) monitor. And I just started going to town.”

Hersh says many of the subjects are artists, educators and “everyday” people that she encounters as executive director of the Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education.

And each is different, focusing on what the person is wearing, their expression, or who may have been in the room with them at the time.

The results can be seen in Unmasked: Portraits from the Zoom Room at The Mill Space in Wilmington through January 14.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.