At the end of 2020, we’re overloaded with reflections in the media about how society has navigated this strange and difficult pandemic year. On a personal level, we all have stories of struggles, loss, insights, and changes. Today we are especially interested in what this time has meant for us as artists. Last week, Rebecca posed the question to our listeners “How did 2020 impact your work?” and today on our first podcast of 2021, we’ll share some of the responses we received as well as our own thoughts.
The responses we received aligned with the same pattern we saw earlier in the year, when we noticed three main responses as the pandemic unfolded. The first group have experienced much difficulty with finding focus and motivation for their work. One described the situation this year as “paralyzing.” While some experienced this mainly at the beginning of the pandemic, for others it has persisted. It’s likely that very few artists have avoided these times completely, with the constant influx of bad news.
A smaller group of artists who responded have kept on in much the same ways and with similar work as before COVID arrived. In our earlier podcast, we speculated that continuing with what is familiar is helpful in making the studio a refuge from all the other changes, a steady and productive place removed from the outer chaos.
The largest number of people who responded to our question, though, experienced positive changes in their work and attitudes. They appreciated the extra studio time due to lockdowns, and looked for inventive ways to use materials on hand and to connect with other artists. Some found new directions in their work—a focus on drawing, launching into plein aire painting, discovering photography as a creative outlet. Several found meaningful connections to their immediate environment when travel was cut off. And several expressed insight into the meaning of their work for them and their gratitude for being able to pursue it.
Many of us are feeling hope that the anxiety, lockdowns, isolation and other difficult aspects of the 2020 pandemic situation will be easing up in the coming months. How will we look back at this time and what has it brought to our work that was not there before? Thankfully, for many artists there have been gains along with all the hardships and losses.
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