Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Art in the year of COVID

Photo: Adrian van Lidth de Jeude
A lot of my artist life consists of writing proposals to send to organizations, curators, and gallerists who, if they have time to look at them at all, will likely not respond. But I persevere because I have a studio full of work, and a mind full of plans, and this is me. I can't just stop. Everything I see, think or feel is an opportunity to reach out - to share and communicate and open eyes and touch hearts.

Then coronavirus struck, and I found myself struggling to create anything at all, never mind make proposals. What is the point, when galleries are closing everywhere, and the internet is stalling like an old beater with the mad flood of people viewing livestreams and open operas and online exhibitions. Most of the live events I've tried to watch with my isolated kids failed due to server overload. Why go to my studio and create art that nobody will ever see? I asked my daughter this question one dismal day when she generously offered to make lunch and dinner so I could get a whole day of studio time. She told me to write.

First of all, the all-seeing wisdom of my 15-year-old daughter never ceases to shock me. What a blessing her advice has been on so many occasions. So I followed it. I wrote the first many things that came to mind - on my Rickshaw Unschooling blog because that's where I have the biggest audience, and in this season of coronavirus isolation, I've been fielding more unschooling consultation requests than usual. It feels like that's what's needed, right now, both for me and for the parents who read my blog.

I have three separate lives: social practice artist, mother/homemaker, and explorative learning facilitator. I make all the meagre income I manage as an explorative learning facilitator, consulting and leading various workshops, classes and events under the umbrella of my Wild Art program. Then coronavirus arrived, and I had to cancel them all for the foreseeable future. My father was recently diagnosed with cancer, and I have an inflammatory autoimmune condition that affects my lungs, so our family is going to be isolated for a long time. Hopefully until we can get a vaccine. With my cancelled programs and my partner's pay-cut from work (he's grateful to take a pay-cut instead of a layoff), we're making a good chunk less money than we had expected to, but we're making due with lots of rice and dried peas, lentils, and chickpeas. We're all getting creative about inventing new foods and learning to make things we had grown accustomed to buying ready-made. My college-going and musical-theatre-producing teens are now fully unschooling at home again, as they did when they were younger, and we're all gardening, mending, baking and living the home-life I once dreamed we would. I'm not teaching, I'm not making art in my studio, I'm not earning a penny, and I feel like we're thriving.

Slowly, slowly, as the isolation carries on, I am seeing the lives I had carefully kept separated are colliding. And it's thrilling! My separate lives were different, but always based on the same innate desire: to live authentically, and to make some change in our human culture, so that we all can live our best lives. Now I'm trying to envision how perhaps my art, education, and homemaking can all become one. I have no idea where I'll find myself as the spring progresses, but at this moment I see that living my authentic life means making art out of my home-life, with my garden, my writing, and my nearly-adult children. I'll get back to you on what that means when I figure it out!


No comments:

Post a Comment

After you submit your comment, it will be sent for approval, which may take up to a day or two. After it's approved, it will appear on the site. Thank you for your thoughts!