The Covid Painting Project at Gallery 120

Artist Helene Woods Exhibit open September 27 – October 22, 2021

The Covid Painting Project, an exhibition by Helene Woods, is showing September 27 to October 22, 2021, at Gallery 120. Art shows and exhibitions are hosted at Gallery 120’s brick-and-mortar location in the atrium of the Fine Arts building on the Inver Hills Community College campus in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. Gallery 120 is also online.

Helene Woods is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

WHAT: The Covid Painting Project

WHO: Artist Helene Woods

WHEN: September 27 – October 22, 2021

WHERE: Gallery 120

Fine Arts Building
Inver Hills Community College
2500 80th Street East
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076
General: 651-450-3000
Gallery: 651-450-3101

About The Covid Painting Project

The Covid Painting Project explores the experiences of COVID-19 patients through Physical Internalism, the process used by D. Helene Woods to portray the physical state of the body through painting.

This project is the result of numerous interviews with patients and medical providers to learn what the many aspects of COVID-19 actually feels like. After interviews, a series of drawings were conducted in preparation for painting on canvas. During the painting process, an imagined biology is added to the human figures to portray their physical experiences.

Helene Woods bio

Helene Woods received her B.F.A. from Southwest State University in 1991 and her Master in Public Administration from Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, in 2010, supporting her work to integrate art into health and human services. Woods identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community and is Jewish. In addition to her work as a professional artist, Helene is an advocate for transgender rights. Helene lives in Monticello, Minnesota, and is a single parent to three children, ages 11, 17 and 19.

Woods’ paintings explore labor and environments of people, especially women, and the physicality of the body. To communicate the impact physicality has, Woods creates figures that are transparent, showing an imagined biology that works to give the figures a personality, rather than clothing and other external factors. This is done to avoid objectification, but also to remove indicators of socio-economic status.

Clothing and facial features immediately provide a setting for a figure. Viewers of Woods’ work are being asked to put themselves and their own experiences into the painting. The viewers become the face of the faceless. Woods is asking the viewers to place themselves in the figures represented and think about how it feels to be that person physically. It is an exercise in compassion. Woods refers to this process as Physical Internalism.

Woods developed the process of using an imagined biology by studying MRI images. Some figures show strong muscular systems, others emphasize illness or old age with engorged uncomfortable organs. “I use this method to find a way to convey what it feels like to be in that body. I am interested in how it feels to have a chronic illness or even a healthy body, and how that can be articulated visually through abstraction.” The figures become narratives that go on to explore how that body interacts with the world.

Learn more about The Covid Painting Project and Gallery 120 by contacting:

Jay Jensen
Ceramics Faculty
Gallery Curator and Coordinator
Gallery 120 on Facebook

Learn more about the A.F.A. in Art at Inver Hills by contacting:

Rob Kolomyski
Painting and Drawing Faculty

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