David Santiago’s work is out in the world in various forms. You can just as easily find it larger than life on a wall downtown as on a beer can in the hands of someone leaning up against a wall downtown. His works are instantly recognizable. They depict a girl with long hair.
When the pandemic hit, Santiago wanted to do something to help. In April he began a new three-print series as a way to support nurses around the country. Limited edition, 18” x 24” signed and numbered prints went on sale on his website April 29 for $75 each, with the stipulation that 25 percent of all sales would be donated to the American Nurses Foundation. This organization does things like helping nurses that are out of work because they are quarantined or sick with COVID-19, as well as supporting the mental health needs of nurses that have been asked to do so much to care for others during this pandemic. As of last week, Santiago has donated over $5,000 to the American Nurses Foundation as a result of these sales.
We have grown to expect polished work from Santiago and the “New Normal” series doesn’t disappoint. Shifting hair, shirt, mask and cross colors between the three versions outline the same face, changing the mood of each. However, I do take issue with the naming of this particular piece. I chafe at the concept of a “New Normal,” like we have arrived as a plateau of some kind in daily life. Conditions are so fluid in American society it may be more accurate to consider this the “Now Normal,” leaving space for the inevitable changes that are headed our way. That said, I recognize that is a pretty nit-picky complaint and not really a reflection on this work. Santiago can name his work whatever he wants.
We’ve all heard a million times that we are living through unprecedented times and that we are now living through a moment in history that will be one of significant note across cultures; an iridium layer in the Anthropocene. How we will remember is as important as how we are remembered. To own Santigo’s “New Normal” is a positive way to do both.