Art Making Through the Pandemic
Life as an artist comes with some interesting cultural baggage to sort through. Those who choose to follow an inner calling to get creative are faced with many questions along the way that dance between the worlds of the practical, philosophical, existential, even spiritual if one should so choose. Trivia along the Artist’s journey varies, but usually touches on themes such as:
“What is art?”
“Why make art?”
“What qualities make art important, valid, or good?”
None of them come with definitive answers, mind you, despite what cultural norms, your family, or the judgmental voice in your head may suggest. And yet, every artist knows it’s easy to fall into ponderings such as these and end up miles down various unpredictable rabbit holes (Check out my post here on mindfulness practices to help keep you motivated and centered in, and out, of the studio). The pandemic has added new layers to these questions, and changed much about the ways we create, share, and experience art. Faced with heightened uncertainty all around, and officially classified “nonessential,” how does this new landscape influence our resolve as artists to keep on creating?
What a balm it is simply to create things.
As seems to be the case for many of us, I continue to find many things to be grateful for along with the challenges this pandemic has produced. My life is filled with many privileges that have made the blows of this pandemic softer than they have been for many, and nevertheless, I’ve still had rough days. One of my favorite lessons from this strange period has been a cementing into the knowing that being an artist, before it is a hobby or field of study or a job, is a nonnegotiable part of who I am; of what makes me up. While the government’s opinions on the “necessity” of art may fluctuate in order to prioritize public safety (which I am in favor of), that does not change the absolutely vital role that creativity and art making play in the day-to-day lives and wellbeing of artists. Spending many months removed from usual social outlets and recreational activities, I was thankfully able to maintain access to clay. I was reminded over and over what a balm it is simply to create things, to bring ideas into form, to process experiences, emotions, and the world around me through the act of making art.
Sharing these creations with an audience and sending them out into the world is a separate but equally nourishing part of the process. How I have missed the fairs, markets, gallery events, and open studio nights! For me, the joy of creating is multiplied many fold when that work suddenly has an existence outside the realms of my imagination and studio. There’s a magic to watching others see and appreciate your vision, or too, to hearing other’s interpretations of and relation to your work that may not have occurred to you from your perspective. Not to mention, making sales and earning income in reciprocity for work is also wonderful. But just as eating and sleeping are both essential, I found that my need to create was still strong even when my usual outlets for sharing and selling work were placed on indefinite hold.
Art making offers a meditation to return focus to the present moment.
Along with the spread of Covid 19, we’ve faced many waves of fear and uncertainty, which can spread even more quickly and can be dangerous to our mental, emotional, and even physical health. Art making offers a meditation to return focus to the present moment, back to expression, back to all there is to be grateful for. I find a kind of brief escape each time I allow myself to delight in creativity, and a resulting renewal that helps me to navigate the world today with positivity, empathy, and hope. Ceramic sculpture is my personal art form of choice, however any creative medium (drawing, photography, collage, painting, cooking, woodworking, writing, to name just a few) can offer the same benefits.
As we all continue to make our way through year two of pandemic life, I hope you’re finding your own ways to stay healthy, hopeful, and inspired. Whether you consider yourself an artist or not, I highly recommend sprinkling your life with art and creativity in whatever forms suit you best, or better yet, try something new! Stay tuned to the Events & Classes link on my page for upcoming online and Covid-friendly art activities.
Today a reader，tomorrow a leader！