To Care, to Belong: Art-Work in Community during the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Misael Diaz
  • Amy Sanchez Arteaga



Since the onslaught of the COVID-19 crisis began in early 2020, Tierra Narrative and Sustainable Little Tokyo—two community-based artist collectives working in the hard-hit urban centers of New York and Los Angeles, respectively—have taken up integral aspects of care with and in their communities. Using art as a vehicle to help secure access to basic necessities for vulnerable populations while creating opportunities for respite and healing, they have continued ongoing transnational and intergenerational efforts to (re)build community from the bottom up, modeling how cultural labor can sustain more livable presents and usher in more just futures. To this end, their art-work functions as both platform and mechanism to weave community members closer together (even while remaining physically apart), fostering networks of mutual care that holistically address both material and emotional needs that impact individual and collective well-being.