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#OnHoldAtHome - RVA Photo Series Documenting Stories of Hope, Fears, and Lessons Learned during COVID-19

Anna and Family

When the pandemic effectively closed Virginia in March, families and individuals scrambled to find new ways to work, socialize, and stay sane while staying safe. As exhibits and performances were cancelled, artists and other creatives found a unique space in their calendars to bring about new art and new stories.

Ram Baghat and Family
#OnHoldAtHome with Ram 
"It's so American to try and make something abnormal into something normal. We haven't done anything to mourn and memorialize our lost loved ones; yet, we're already expected to get over it. That's part of the root cause of our dysfunction as a nation. We are afraid to acknowledge our trauma and deal with it." Ram, who lost his uncle during COVID-19, discusses issues of racial and social inequality that he's been dealing with his whole life. (Photo credit: Tania del Carmen Fernández)

Photographer Tania del Carmen Fernández and creative director Rachel Scott Everett of EVERGIB seized the opportunity that sheltering in place offered and created #OnHoldAtHome - a photo series inspired by the unprecedented ways in which friends and neighbors continue to navigate their lives while social distancing, documenting their stories of hopes, fears, and lessons learned.

The photo series began in their neighborhood during the first few weeks of stay-at-home orders, but it quickly expanded over the last four months to feature a broader view of the city, reflecting the diverse community and perspectives of those living in the Richmond region.

Alicia and daughters
 #OnHoldAtHome with Alicia 
“The depth of the inequities in this country and the world are alarming. I’m deeply troubled by the way it’s disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable. I’m outraged by the violence of racist acts and painfully aware of the worsening conditions for women, LGBTQ+, and immigrants.” Alicia is a dance artist and educator who is the process of reimagining her livelihood, acknowledging the crisis has been devastating for independent artists. (Photo credit: Tania del Carmen Fernández)

And with the global outcry over George Floyd’s killing, especially in Richmond, where public demands to take down Confederate memorials garnered national attention, Fernández and Everett found their project could also provide a platform to amplify voices and provide open, honest thoughts about race, politics, and systemic inequity. They believe that by sharing these stories, our community gains an opportunity to learn and grow into a more compassionate, kind, and empathetic society.

Currently, #OnHoldAtHome is segmented into three chapters:

Chapter 1: The Lockdown Begins (March 15 - April 19) documents families as they experience school and business closures, sheltering in place orders, and an exponential increase in virus cases.

Chapter 2: Time Loses Meaning (April 19 - May 24) follows personal stories of restlessness and fortitude as the U.S. faces an enormous downturn in the economy, skyrocketing unemployment, and lives on pause.

Chapter 3, Revolution in the Air (May 24 - present) expands the story of living through the pandemic into historic protests from the Black Lives Matter movement and others surrounding George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis Police, as well as larger issues of racial and social inequity in RVA and beyond.

Carol
#OnHoldAtHome with Carol
"The pandemic has put America in the shoes of those who experience racial and social injustices daily. Ninety percent of U.S. citizens have experienced unemployment, movement restrictions and limitations on things such as grocery shopping, household supplies and medical care." Carol has worked for Richmond Police for over 20 years. (Photo credit: Tania del Carmen Fernández)

In a statement, Fernández and Everett say, “Currently, the U.S. has the highest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the world, surpassing three million. As we make our way through the first wave of this pandemic, it’s clear the world has shifted and will never be the same. While no one knows what chapter comes next, one thing’s for certain: the stories are far from over.”

To learn more about the photo project, visit #OnHoldAtHome or follow the stories on Instagram @OnHoldAtHome.