Sculpture Support System
The Quarantine Companion
Greater Pittsburgh, PA
About the Project
The Quarantine Companion is a participatory art project created by Sculpture Support System, an artist team led by Sharon Massey and Sean Derry. When the quarantine began, the artists began distributing “kits” consisting of needle, thread, googly eyes and instructions for how people could create their own companions using leftover fabric and other scraps. These kits were available through direct request online and mail order delivery through the United States Postal System.
When they were selected for this initiative, the artists used the support of the Office of Public Art to acquire three custom toy vending machines where members of the public could obtain their own kits. The machines were calibrated for “free spin,” ensuring participants could obtain their kit at no cost, and were located: in the neighborhood of Garfield at Assemble at 4824 Penn Avenue; in the Borough of Homestead at the Rivers of Steel offices in the Bost Building at 623 E. Eighth Avenue; and in the Borough of Millvale at the Millvale Community Development Corporation, a storefront located at 216 North Avenue. The storefront, complete with vinyl text and graphics in the windows, served as the main hub for project information. Additionally, mail order kits remained available for request at sculpturesupportsystem.org.
Instructions in The Quarantine Companion kit invited participants to name their companion and share their picture via Instagram with the hashtag #TheQuarantineCompanion. Others emailed pictures of their creations directly to the artists for inclusion on Sculpture Support System’s website.
A virtual exhibition of Quarantine Companions was hosted on the Sculpture Support System website.
About the Artists
Sculpture Support System is a collaborative endeavor of artists Sharon Massey and Sean Derry and their students. Inspired by a desire to provide a more in-depth professional experience for highly motivated students, Massey and Derry formed Sculpture Support System in 2019. The group collaborates on projects that engage community members in a range of art making processes.
Sculpture Support System is indebted to the field of Social Practice, which seeks to make art more inclusive and participatory. The members of Sculpture Support System maintain individual studio art practices but come together as collaborators to work on a larger scale and to develop projects targeted at expressing underrepresented voices. We intend for our collaborative work to empower our project participants and fellow collaborators to reimagine the role of art in society.
“The Quarantine Companion came out of our collective desire to make art and find a new way to create community through the production of art during this crisis. In response to social distancing and isolation related to COVID-19, many people may develop feelings of uncertainty, fear and loneliness… Making a companion is a lighthearted approach to dealing with the complex emotions we are all feeling, and the act of gathering materials from your home and hand-stitching an object with personal significance reaffirms the value of art in our lives.”Sharon Massey and Sean Derry