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Copy of 3. speak no evil-vellum 9.5x9.jpg

By Anna Mecugni, transcript from “Coping with Covid: Art in and about a Pandemic,” a Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities “Daring Discussions” lecture, New Orleans Healing Center, New Orleans, May 20, 2022:

Frahn Koerner’s line drawing and painting on paper, shown here, were also included in the Arthur Roger Gallery exhibition. Made in 2020, they functioned as diaries of rising Covid cases early in the pandemic in New Orleans. The work on the left is entitled “Tuesday, April 28 Covid 19.” It is inscribed along the right edge of the paper support with detailed information reported through NOLAready, the emergency notification system for the City: "15 new cases and 4 deaths since yesterday in New Orleans,” and the time “12:04pm.” The work on the right is entitled “35 new cases” and is also inscribed along the right edge of the paper support: “35 new cases and 4 deaths in NOLA.” It is dated May 13th, so it was made just a couple of weeks after the work on the left. NOLAready is the alert system New Orleanians know well as that is how residents stay informed about hurricane warnings and other weather-related threats, which can be quite frequent.


Koerner’s works are remarkably similar and yet different in tone. They feature the same female silhouette, rendered in precisely the same posture and outfit. Nearly every detail of the silhouette is repeated in the later work, but the figure here looks larger, closer to the edges of the paper, and more at ease, less isolated, surrounded and animated by green and lavender layers of brushwork. The NOLAready details are hardly visible on the right, painted in slightly lighter green over the intricate green and lavender background. We know that this is a self-portrait of the artist and that this gesture of covering the mouth with both hands is one that appears in an earlier work by Koerner [CLICK] entitled “Speak No Evil: Study,” from 2008, where the artist’s silhouette is drawn in a frontal, more stable, grounded posture. Koerner has said about her 2020 works on the left that they speak to the state of psychological and emotional confusion that she (along with the rest of us in fact) was experiencing at the time: “Move forward, stand in place, cover our mouths, turn away... what are we to do?”

Anna Mecugni, PhD (she/her)
Assistant Professor of Art History, Women's & Gender Studies
Art History Program Focal Point 
Internship Coordinator

University of New Orleans
School of the Arts / Department of Fine Arts
2000 Lakeshore Drive

New Orleans, LA 70148

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