THE BRIGHTER SIDE OF AN UNEXPECTED YEAR
As wild as it is to believe, it has been a year since we all buckled up for that rollercoaster we call COVID. The changes we all made to our daily and professional lives still linger, a year later, for some more than others. While some of us thrived as creatives and professionals, others lost businesses, and were forced to let go of dreams. I felt, and still feel, incredibly fortunate that I was able to continue doing what I love, despite the limitations that have been in place.
The Shut Your Eyes exhibition still came to fruition, as scheduled, and not only did it show up, but the public showed up as well. I will admit that I did not have exceptionally high expectations for this show— not because of the art, but because I knew that the general public had better things to worry about than an art show. I fully recognize that most people do not value art experiences the way that I do, and when it came down to making a choice to go out in public during a pandemic, my feelings were not going to be hurt if someone chose the grocery store over my exhibition. And yet, not only did people choose to go visit the show, they bought art. That meant something to me, and not even so much from a financial perspective, as from an emotional one. So many people were being financially wrecked by a pandemic, but art was still on their priority list. It felt good, as an artist, to know that what I do was considered “essential” to someone.
Fast-forward to today, and many people have asked, “What’s next?” Well, to be honest, while COVID did not have an immediate effect on my work, I am certainly experiencing a bit of delayed reaction, of sorts. You see, the process usually goes as follows:
A call for art catches my attention.
I apply for said call for art, with one of many ideas that I have in my head.
I am chosen for said call for art.
I make the art.
I show the art.
Well, many ”calls for art” occur at least a year in advance of an exhibition. Many exhibitions that were slated for 2020 were postponed until this year. So, that means there is nothing on the books for me, officially, for 2021, because calls for art simply did not happen last year. Too much was uncertain, and many exhibitions were backlogged.
As much as this could leave me feeling like I am essentially blowing in the wind, I actually view it as an opportunity to reboot my process, and explore some new mediums. When I released the Shut Your Eyes collection, I told my husband that it felt like it could potentially be the last exhibition I put together in this particular style of painting. I feel like I have grown beyond it, and I have so much more to say with my work than for what this process allows. Exploration is essential in this line of work. Creativity cannot be stagnant. Curiosity is key.
So while this current gap has me feeling a bit naked, it is a wonderful opportunity for me to take some extra time to navigate new waters. It also allows me to revamp my timeline, as far as exhibitions go, and work backwards. Until now, I have always been so committed to the next show, that I have always had to pitch the idea first, and then create it on a deadline. I don’t enjoy it. When art is forced to fit into a schedule, it automatically loses a little bit of its shine, and I have always felt like this sort of itinerary has limited my work, to some degree. So, to be able to work backwards— to bring the idea to life, fully, and then present it for exhibition consideration, would be really lovely. Less pressure. Better art.
And this little pandemic-provided delay has given me permission to do just that.
Currently, I am in the process of creating several hundred mini prints, using alcohol ink. This medium has fascinated me for years, in part because of the organic shapes and transparency that the ink presents. There is something cellular about it, which is why this next collection (however it presents itself) is entitled Specimen. When I work, I perceive each print as a microscope slide (maybe they will be on microscope slides— who knows?) It is teaching me a great deal about color theory and mixing, and learning how to control and manipulate a medium on a small scale. Once I begin working, I become completely lost in it, so I think I am headed in the right direction.