Whether it has been the passing of a loved one, chronic unemployment, a divided community, or emotional fatigue, this past year has been marked by loss. Covid-19 has left many of us uninspired, tired, and fearful of the future. Perhaps one of the most powerful qualities of art making is its ability to bring beauty, inspiration, and even hope to some of the bleakest of situations. During the pandemic, artists from across the globe have drawn from their inner creative powers to give voice to the pains of humanity and hope to those who feel lost. As the French painter Georges Braque once expressed, “Art is a wound turned into light.” Art heals us, it lifts our spirit, and it gives us perspective in times of adversity. With this in mind, we celebrate the following artists who help to transform the wounds inflicted by the pandemic into the desperately needed light that will carry us into the future.
Jennifer M. Potter https://www.instagram.com/jennifermpotter/
“Social Distancing in the Mission,”
by Jennifer M. Potter
A year of mask wearing, social distancing, and postponing of social events has left many of us feeling isolated and disconnected. However, Jennifer M. Potter’s “Social Distancing in the Mission” proposes that a sense of community and belonging is still possible amidst the pandemic. While the subjects are maintaining physical distance, friendly gestures and cheer are still exchanged on this sunny day. Potter’s interpretation of our current time suggests that despite so much having been lost, communities are still resilient. The San Francisco-based illustrator reflects on what inspired her to create this piece: “I drew this after picking up groceries one day. As I walked around the neighborhood, I was heartened to see how people and small businesses were adapting. Even though we can’t socialize in the usual way, seeing everyone make an effort strengthens the sense of community I feel, and I wanted to share that feeling with others.”
Tatsuya Tanaka https://www.instagram.com/tanaka_tatsuya/
“Winter Always Turns to Spring,”
by Tatsuya Tanaka
Japanese miniature and resemblance artist Tatsuya Tanaka invites viewers to always remember the simple joys of life with “Winter always turns to spring.” Juxtaposing a surgical mask with a relaxing picnic scene reminds us that joy and beauty can always be found amidst adversity. Despite the daily stress and struggle that accompany Covid-19, there is still opportunity to relax and enjoy life. This miniature diorama was the March 1, 2021 posting on Tanaka’s “MINIATURE CALENDER,” of which he has made daily postings since 2011. All of his dioramas bring humor, curiosity, and lightheartedness to the realities of everyday life. The artist shares that “ Everyday occurrences seen from a miniature perspective can bring us lots of fun thoughts.”
Lee Cartledge https://www.instagram.com/lee.cartledge/
“Virus Vases,” by Lee Cartledge
Covid-19 will not be easily forgotten. For some, remembering the virus will be a part of their healing and processing for the rest of their lives. Art can serve as a collective memory, linking viewers to a previous time, feeling, or experience. The “Virus Vase” is one such piece that will always evoke a response in those who lived through the 2020 pandemic. Since last February, North Yorkshire potter Lee Cartledge has been producing vases in the shape of the Covid-19 virus. There is something poetic about filling a virus shaped vase with something lovely such as fresh water and flowers. Perhaps the vases symbolize the beauty that can sprout from challenging times. To others, the vases may serve as a way to remember all that was lost or to honor those who passed away from the virus. For Cartledge, the mere shape of the virus gave him fresh inspiration to create. After first seeing the virus on the news, he reports that “this glorious image of this bloody virus” was “begging to be made in clay.” It is clear that these oddly shaped vases will hold various meaning to buyers, but also serve as a memento to a time that we will never forget.