On March 17th, 2020, fear about the COVID 19 virus in America was reaching a fever pitch; schools and businesses everywhere were closing. It was in this atmosphere that we made the decision to begin an artwork about the history of pandemics.
In the space of 24 hours, Stephen Schaub traveled from Vermont to Provincetown, Massachusetts and back to find and photograph the Smallpox cemetery he had heard rumors about. The resulting imagery formed the basis for A Wonderful Plague, an artwork in six panels.
Eve Schaub then researched the long history of plagues and their intersection in this geographic area, selecting quotations, anecdotes and myths that pointed to recurrent themes.
A Wonderful Plague traverses a wide history, from the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower, the shunning of Smallpox victims, and the “hidden” pandemics of HIV and AIDS, to the legends of Saint Corona and Kateri Tekakwitha the first Native American saint.
Man always looks for meaning in times of crisis. Who controls the narrative of disease? Who decides the meaning of a pandemic?