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Vaughan artist responds to pandemic with The Social Bubble

By Wayne Doyle

The Social Bubble is a public art installation created by Alysha Rocca, a Vaughan-born artist, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to show the resilience of artists and our community. 

Alysha studied at Ontario College of Arts and Design University where she earned a BFA in Drawing and Painting. Her creative practice involves an emphasis on textiles while labelling her work as paintings. While she identifies as a painter, she also enjoys sculpture, drawing, and installation. Alysha features space through the tactile quality of her work to create an interesting combination of art in space. 

Alysha received a York Region Arts Council Micro Grant to complete The Social Bubble. Experienceyorkregion.com caught up with Alysha to discuss the project.

experienceyorkregion.com: Tell us about the genesis of The Social Bubble. Where did the idea come from and what are you hoping the project achieves?

Alysha Rocca: The idea of The Social Bubble came out of the phrase “social bubble” that was made popular over the past year and a half to contain the speed of coronavirus. We were asked to stay within our social bubble and I began to think ‘What would that look like as a physical structure?’ 

XYR: What is The Social Bubble constructed from?

AR: The Social bubble is made from 100% recycled plastic, hex nuts and bolts, and a wooden platform.

XYR: How long did it take for you to complete the project? What were some of the biggest hurdles along the way and how did you overcome them?

AR: Collectively, it took 457 hours to create The Social Bubble. This includes all the artists’ time to make their work and my time to put it together. It also took about 9 months from concept to presentation. The biggest hurdles with this project were finding a location and choosing an opening date. Due to the Covid-19 lockdowns, the date for installation and presentation kept fluctuating. We finally found a date and we were so lucky that another lockdown didn’t happen at that time! 

XYR: The general public assumes a lot of artists work in isolation on a daily basis in a non-covid environment. Did covid isolation affect the way you work or did you find it affected others more than you? Why?

AR: I personally found Covid isolation very hard for my creative work. Previous to covid, I was working in a studio at OCAD University and I had to move all my things out in three days. I didn’t have time to find another studio space and I worked from home. It was challenging because the space I have at home is a dark basement. Sometimes I work in my room which has more light but I had to adjust my practice to smaller works to fit the space I had. Artists do work independently but the option of working around others was taken away for a while and I think that can be hard for everyone. 

XYR: What do you hope the viewer takes away from the work?

AR: I hope the viewers take away three main components: that any materials can be made into art, art is essential to our culture as humans, and art is a viable career. 

XYR: Where can people see The Social Bubble?

AR: The Social Bubble can be found at the Civic Centre Resource Library in Vaughan. It’s on display until the end of November (2191 Major MacKenzie Dr West)

XYR: How did the York Region Arts Council (YRAC) microgrant help you realize the project?

AR: The YRAC microgrant helped me realize this project by providing opportunity for the arts in York Region. Without their support this project wouldn’t have come to life. The YRAC also connected me with many amazing individuals that I was able to work with while creating the logistics of this project. The YRAC microgrant also provided local artists with a paid opportunity to participate in this installation, and giving artists funds and credit is a way to build the art community in York Region. 

To see more of The Social Bubble, please visit https://www.oushiesart.com/social-bubble

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Wayne Doyle is the manager of marketing and communications for the York Region Arts Council. A former journalist, Wayne is always looking for great stories to share with readers of experienceyorkregion.com. If you’ve got a York Region story to tell, contact Wayne: wayne@yorkregionartscouncil.com

Photos used by permission of artists – Alysha Rocca, Alessandra Pozzuoli, Amanda Pistillo, Anson Liaw, Fatima Raza, Idalina Leandro, Maliik, Preet Chugh, Sophie Naidoo, William Lottering and Yasaman Mehrsa.

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