On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Five days later, Canada closed its borders to international visitors, introducing emergency measures to contain the spread of the virus – measures that continue to shape everyday life around the world. Throughout, the arts have remained both a source and force of resilience, providing ways to navigate and understand the changing COVID-19 environment. 

Taking its name from Anishinaabe artist Bonnie Devine’s recent work of the same title, Vectors of Transmission highlights recent projects by a number of Indigenous artists in response to the evolving pandemic. Offering insight into how the impacts of the virus are not experienced equally and consistently across populations, this emerging visual culture underscores the particular vulnerability of Indigenous communities that continue to experience social, economic, and health inequities as well as disparities in decision-making power. It also provides vital context for this novel virus. Addressing nuanced intersecting colonial histories that span continents and centuries, the artists’ work points to the importance of documenting and understanding the past and its critical role in transforming the present.

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