Artists’ experiences altered by global unease

Three creatives give their perspectives on art during the pandemic

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Chesney Evert

Savannah Meadow, a junior at Design Tech High School, takes a virtual art class.

As uncertainty builds in all aspects of pandemic life, artists turn to their canvases in hopes of escaping reality. Some find it to be a release for restless minds. For others, it’s a hurdle.  

Throughout history, the visual arts have served as a self-reflection medium for everyone, from Michelangelo to an imaginative preschooler. Carrie Holbo, a grant specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts, describes creative exploration as “a gift from one soul to another.” 

Sabrina Carroll, an artist and local business owner, finds value in Holbo’s depiction of how art fosters connectivity.

“Art has made me more community aware,” Carroll said. “It’s a great venue for socialization and touching base with other people without using words.”

Using her oil paints, Carroll hopes to explore the style of “The Group of Seven,” a posse of Canadian artists with a modernized approach to painting landscapes. However, she finds herself stifled by COVID-19’s imposing presence.

“During the pandemic, it has been really hard to do art. And it’s funny because I’ll talk to my fellow artists and they say similar things. It feels like the frame of mind is not there because we’re dealing with something else,” Carroll said. 

Like Carroll, other artists are facing challenges at the hands of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sheena Wilton, the owner of Laurel Street Arts in San Carlos, has had to pivot her business model to accommodate restrictions. 

Since its opening in 2002, Laurel Street Arts has provided classes in ceramics, glass fusion, and mosaics to the San Carlos community. Wilton took over ownership in July of 2020 and began putting together kits so art students could attend online classes from home. 

“I see 26 kids on Zoom every week, and we have continued to build relationships and create art,” Wilton said. “I’m inspired by giving children and families the opportunity to be creative, and continuing to provide that outlet is important, even when it’s hard.” 

As schools have transitioned to online learning, art classes like Wilton’s have also taken a virtual turn. Savannah Meadow, a junior at Design Tech High School, has been a part of the online art process as both a student and an instructor. 

Equipped with her iPad, shaded sketches, and an eye for detail, Meadow adopts a different stance on art to find optimism to combat the feelings of isolation. 

“I obviously can’t go out and do other things, so I’ve been able to focus on art for myself,” Meadow said. “Seeing works of art that other people have created has been uplifting; definitely a high point of the pandemic.”

Despite obstacles, all three artists recommend art as an outlet during these demanding times.

“Go somewhere quiet to look around. Take a pencil, don’t make it too difficult,” Carroll said. “I always find that there is nothing more inviting than a blank page.”

 

 

 

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