Updated: Apr 29, 2020
Despite the ongoing quarantine, my motivation to create art/write has been stronger than ever! I recently watched a TED Talk about the power of constraints as catalysts for creativity. For me, in the current situation of social distancing (more specifically, stay-at-home orders), creativity has served as a means for responding to the coronavirus pandemic and minimized in-person connection in a constructive way.
In troubling times, many people turn to the arts to feel a greater sense of wellbeing. There's something about listening to soothing music or dancing around in the kitchen that nourishes the soul. The International Arts + Mind Lab (IAM Lab) created a COVID-19 NeuroArts Field Guide with evidence-based arts ideas, geared to help individuals and families cope during this time.
The first artworks that I created during quarantine unfolded without specific direction. I just let the materials guide the final pieces. The images below show the before and after of an artwork that I created on March 23rd. It started off as an experimental watercolor painting. I immediately saw a face along the upper right-hand side, so I decided to begin with that. The face soon turned into the Statue of Liberty recreated as an angel. I drew 565 dots at the bottom of the page to symbolize the lives lost in the United States to the coronavirus at that time. For the record, the current death toll in the United States is over 54,000 people, with numbers constantly rising.
I created the next piece in response to the coronavirus pandemic. I began by cutting out words and phrases that connect to the current situation, including those that are repeatedly used in the news and on social media. I arranged the words to read somewhat like a poem, and different poems can emerge depending on the order in which they are read.
Nothing is certain.
Appreciate your time, stay connected.
Watch history, see the future.
Panic, fear, stress, depression, inequities, uncertainty... makes it hard to breathe.
Surrender your first world problems.
Help change fast deadly spread,
Reduce the risk,
Wash your hands
If you can.
I also included a quote in the center from my daily tear-away calendar that seemed to connect as well:
Solitude gives birth
to the original in us,
To beauty unfamiliar
In addition to these artworks, I began taking photographs in a series called "Contained". I was first inspired to create a found object color wheel after seeing an example shared by a fellow art educator. I found a wooden hoop to keep all of my objects organized in a circular shape. After posting my example on Facebook, I was happy to see other people sharing what they had created at home!
From there, I decided to use the wooden hoop to organize and contain other objects. The concept of containment also connected to the responsibility of containing the coronavirus through various safety measures. Additional photos from the photo series can be found here.
Technology and social media platforms have been incredibly useful in staying connected with family, friends, and colleagues. I recently joined a Facebook group for local art educators to share current artworks. It's inspiring to see what others are creating! I decided to reach out and see if anyone was interested in participating in an artist trading card swap. Several people responded, so I created a Google sheet to organize their contact information. I mailed out my cards last week. It was fun to create small, experimental pieces of art to share with others.
Have you been inspired to get creative during this time of social distancing?