Looking for Inspiration While Sheltering in Place

What's Your View? Plus Prompts & Other Thoughts from Life in Quarantine | ISSUE 5, march 26, 2020

Love in the time of cholera. Art in the time of coronavirus…

Seemingly overnight, the entire fabric of daily life has been turned upside down. And yet—between trying to order groceries online and refreshing the homepage of our chosen news source—it’s important we keep ourselves optimistic, energized, and engaged (and, perhaps, a little distracted). It’s also important to make space for sharing and processing the darker side of this new reality.

We at TFA believe art is essential for personal well-being and connection to our shared humanity. As an arts organization committed to fostering art-making in community, we are determined to rise to the challenges self-isolation and quarantine present. During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to continue our mission of bringing out the artist in all of us.

TFA will continue turning to West Virginia artists to learn more about how they’re coping and faring during this crisis. A certain amount of “social distancing” is already a part of their routine, with long days spent in the studio. But how are they coping with the broader effects of COVID-19? And what sorts of things are they doing to keep their spirits up in these anxious times?

Follow along with us as we share stories that reflect the ingenuity inherent in our people. And lend a sympathetic ear to the very real struggles this new reality brings our way. 

~ Renee Margocee, executive director, Tamarack Foundation for the Arts

This Would Be True

We are ALL artists-in-residence now …

What Do You See Out Your Quarantine Window?

The online magazine Slate.com is running a delightful feature geared to our newly sheltered lives: What Are You Seeing From Quarantine? Most of us can’t travel right now. So please send your views to us.” The site is soliciting folks to send cellphone photos of what they see out their favorite windows from our sheltering-in-place places. We pose the same request. Send us a .jpeg or .png image—original size, if possible—along with your location and first name (we won’t publish surnames) to: storyteller@thestoryisthething.com. We’ll publish our favorites in the next newsletter. Here’s what TFA’s Renee Margocee sees out her window:

And this is the view from the world headquarters of TheStoryIsTheThing.com offices of TFA Design Team member Douglas John Imbrogno

Inspiration & Art in a Time of Crisis

Given that we’re all sheltered in place, many of the usual questions about creating art—as both a practice, a calling and a business—may be in disarray. This newsletter hopes to explore with artists the daunting challenges of keeping their work, craft, and bottom line together in a pandemic when the headlines seem to change by the hour.

Yet inspiration to pursue our art and our craft is always good to hear. The Tamarack Foundation for the Arts video below, “On Being a Creative Professional in West Virginia,” was released in 2016 and speaks, of course, to the arts in a world not reduced to a few rooms in our homes. But the inspiration offered by these West Virginia creatives is timeless. The fact is that one day this crisis will end. And the pent-up creativity of artists will extend beyond their home studios and offices once again.

Given the damage the pandemic is doing to the economy at the state, national, and international levels, it will be all-hands-on-deck to revive our collective and personal fortunes once the crisis passes. The arts will play a huge role in this. As Lewisburg WV publishing and multimedia agency owner Josh Baldwin notes in the video:

“As we look around the state and try to find different ways to grow our own communities, I think it’s very important that we keep the focus on the arts. Because the culture and heritage of a town—that’s the heartbeat of a town, that’s the energy that draws people to it.”

Shepherdstown woodworker Bruce Fransen rightly notes of the artistic community in West Virginia: “It’s a very sharing community of people.” That remark raises a good question, one we hope you’ll explore with us in the days, weeks, and months ahead: How can artists and communities across West Virginia continue to thrive and create, supporting each other and building community, even while sequestered in our separate homes? We welcome your thoughts in comments to this newsletter or by reaching out to the emails listed at bottom.

In This Video: Watch ceramicist Norma Acord (Athens, WV); publishing and multimedia agency owners Josh and Mary Baldwin (Lewisburg, WV); woodworker Bruce Fransen (Shepherdstown, WV); glass artist Ron Hinkle (Milton, WV); painter Newman Jackson (Charleston, WV); and fine artist, jewelry-maker and gallerist Elizabeth Turner (Charleston, WV) discuss the importance of creative businesses to West Virginia’s economy, legacy, and the enrichment of daily life.

Hashtag Arts Challenge

Artwork Archive offers subscription software solutions for artists looking for an all-in-one service to present and market their work to the world. In light of the pandemic, the site threw out a cool idea: “Creative Prompts for Art Projects During Social Distancing.” We’ll let them explain if you’re interested in taking part in some hashtag artfulness:

“To help slow the spread of Coronavirus, we are spending more time inside, perhaps without studios and without our normal creativity communities. During this time of isolation, we can come together to bridge the social distance through community and art.

“That’s why we are starting the #artuniteschallenge with new artistic prompts each day. You can do them all, pick and choose, or simply share what you are creating right now during social distancing. Let’s spread creativity and cultivate community through art. Show us what you are doing to stay creative and connected by tagging @artworkarchive on Instagram and using the hashtag #artuniteschallenge. We will share your picture in our story and spread art throughout our community.”

Here are 6 of 31 prompts to “spark creativity during social distancing”:

  1. Go on a virtual museum tour. Select your favorite work and recreate it in a different style

  2. Write "joy" or "gratitude" in the middle of a page and draw three things that bring you small joys or moments of gratitude during this time.

  3. Follow Monet’s lead and do a drawing of the same building or view at different times of the day.

  4. Make stamps from unusual household items—and use them to make a printed pattern. Or use a household item as a paintbrush (old toothbrush, rag, etc) to make an artwork. 

  5. ​Create a coloring book page and share it here for others to use. Or, print out one of these coloring pages and complete them. 

  6. Create doodle cards to send to family and friends—and include one for your mailman.  Postal service employees are still delivering, so leave a goodie for them in your mailbox. 

Here are 5 of 31 prompts to “spark creativity during social distancing”:

  1. Identify a few "art-business allies" to keep during this time. Staying connected to positive, proactive artists during this time can help create a productive and supportive virtual environment.

  2. Host a virtual studio visit or critique with your art-business allies.

  3. Re-visit your artistic statement, bio, resume, and CV.

  4. Organize your art materials and/or studio and post before- and after-photos

  5. Get to inbox zero. Go through your emails, respond to any forgotten threads, and update your contact lists.  

Spread the Word

We welcome comments and feedback below. Or call us at 304.926.3770 or email me directly at renee AT tamarackfoundation.org. For media inquires about stories on TFA Fellows or other topics, contact TFA team member Douglas John Imbrogno at douglaseye AT gmail.com or call 304.638.9784.

And if you were forwarded this newsletter, subscribe for free at this link: tamarackforthearts.substack.com | Be well and be safe. | Renee Margocee | Executive Director | Tamarack for the Arts