Can traditional easel painting effectively communicate contemporary global issues? The Insomnia in Venice paintings point to climate change and Acqua Alta in damp, lamp lit calli and canals. Since living in Venice many years ago, I am still haunted by the extraordinary spell of its deep past and its present threatened status as a cautionary tale for coastal cities everywhere.

Delaware Art Museum Permanent Collection

Insomnia in Venice  Essay

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June Julian

The Big Picture

The Plague Doctor

The Plague Doctor mask is an appropriate symbol for our contemporary times. Historically, doctors wore the Medico della Peste mask while making their rounds in Venice during the Black Plague. Its characteristic eye glasses and long beak, that was stuffed with aromatic and medicinal herbs, were thought to be protective.

By employing the iconic mask and the atmospheric effects of curative myrtle smoke, the Plague Doctor paintings refer to the miasma of obfuscation surrounding the Covid 19 virus. 

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Insomnia in Venice

Venice, La Serenissima, in my insomnia, I hear you call me again.

Why don't you let me sleep?