About Journal of the Plague Year(s)

Journal of the Plague Year(s) (JOTPY) is a series of collaborative installations and paintings on post-consumer cardboard begun in response to the pandemic and toxic politics of 2020. The project’s title pays homage to Daniel Defoe’s 1722 book, A Journal of the Plague Year, billed as “observations or memorials of the most remarkable occurrences… in London during the last Great Visitation in 1665 [the Great Plague].” It is especially appropriate as the project begins with our own observations and memories during the most remarkable year when the entire world shut down.

Inspired by the handmade signage at the 2017 New York Women’s March, which the artists attended together, Dawna began making signs on cardboard to comment on events that intrigued and infuriated her. Her work reflects her view that climate change—the existential crisis of our lifetime—is responsible for every disaster plaguing our planet, including Covid, widespread famine and displacement, and political dysfunction.

Betsy’s signs arose from the train wreck that was Trump’s presidency and the inevitable chaos brought on by his response to Covid-19. American-born, she became transfixed by the sight of her country losing its grip. With words and images plucked from the daily news cycle, she made paintings that gave voice to her anger and disbelief.