By Claire Christy
Many important works of art have been born of suffering, including during COVID-19 quarantine. While self-isolation may not be over for everyone, the Pend Oreille Arts Council has called on its artist-members to share their quarantine creations with the community. Many artists tried a new medium, started creating again or found work representative of current events.
One of Anna Cool’s three submissions, “No Room,” shows a health care worker carrying a female figure away from a hospital.
“Many loved ones needed help. They were sent away to fight alone, to fear without guidance, and to grieve in isolation,” she said. “My painting attempts to capture that despair and anguish; to never forget and to perhaps be a reminder toward the importance of being prepared.”
For Jan Rust, who submitted a collection of abstract work, Creations of Quarantine marks her first showing as an artist.
“My collection for the quarantine show reflects my exploration of abstract expressionism using oil and cold wax, weaving and mixed media,” she said. “Two of the paintings were created as a testimony to family activities during the pandemic. ‘Bonfire’ refers to the many bonfires my son built for family gatherings during the pandemic. ‘The Statement’ refers to the profound thoughts and perceptions shared by my youngest grandsons during our time at home.”
Three pieces by Lesley Gadsby are featured as well — two of which illustrate crowded city streets with unmasked figures. The third, “Edgar and the Boys,” shows an unkindness of ravens.
“Two pieces are light in color and picture buildings with figures. They represent both before and after quarantine, a time when we could be with friends, dining, shopping, hugging,” she said. “The third painting is chaotic and somber in tone, representing 2020.”
Denys Knight, a copper artist, said about her single submission, “Remains of the Day”: “A drawer in my copper/fold forming/flame painting studio holds scraps, fragments, and bits leftover from the many pieces I have created over the past months. These remains are a confusing jumbled mess in the drawer. Relating to what happened over the past 11 months, I felt the desire to create something beautiful out of the chaos.”
“The Nobody Inn, Six Feet Apart, 1901,” by Barry Burgess, is a small but powerful part of the show.
“In March of 2020, our world came to a standstill. We live six feet apart, wear masks or don’t, and live life in anxiety,” he said. “A new history is being made. … Like the strife found in the editorials of the local papers, I envisioned a war of maskers and anti-maskers. The only true way to solve the issue was to create a restaurant, bar, B&B or tavern where anyone could go, but nobody could be in. I designated it, ‘The Nobody Inn.’”
A “fabrisaic” — fabric assembled in a mosaic style — by Jenni Barry, “A Capricorn’s Dream of Seattle,” is the largest piece in the show.
“When everything shut down in March, depriving us of all travel, communities everywhere were essentially in their own bubble,” she said. “Seattle was the first to experience this because they had the first cases of COVID-19. Seattle is one of the cities that I would love to visit and suddenly it seemed so out of reach — just like a dream. This piece is my way of sending well wishes to all who feel isolated and in a bubble.”
Two black-and-white photographs, submitted by Mike Decesare, perfectly capture isolation.
“The lonely, uncertain reality brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic inspired the creation of my photographs, ‘Alone’ and ‘Isolation,’” he said. “The world around us may look the same, but COVID has temporarily made so much of it solitary, distant and out of reach.”
Those interested in seeing the Creations of Quarantine exhibition can find it on display until March 1 at the POAC Gallery, inside the Music Conservatory (110 Main St., Ste. 101). Call 208-263-6139 to schedule a private viewing.
Claire Christy is the arts coordinator for the Pend Oreille Arts Council.
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