Artistic Gestation During COVID-19

My name is Max and I’m going to be stepping in as the On Campus Art News Blogger! I hope everyone is doing as well as this semester wraps up and a summer of distancing and care commences.

Quantifying this dark age into any single sort of category or item feels too large of a topic to generalize about, so I’d like to write about how this process has influenced my individual artistic process, whilst still acknowledging that everyone has their own private processes for handling the tectonic shifts that are touching every part of our lives right now.

One aspect of my own (and I’m sure many others’) creative process is something I can only refer to as “artistic affliction.” This is the idea that if I’m not creating or actively working (in the physical sense) on an artistic project then I’m not succeeding at being an artist. I would like to take this opportunity to dismantle that idea, not only for myself but also for others who might feel similarly.

Throughout human history, art has given us a visual glimpse into some kind of collective conscience, and the destruction of art even more so. So much of this art is based in observation, not of the plein-air variety, but from the attention paid to one’s own senses, the changes in nature and society, or the acknowledgment of one’s own intuitive thought.

Painted in 1937 from his home in Paris, Picasso’s famous Guernica stands today as a classic example of this. Born of a reaction to the military bombing of Guernica, Spain by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, Guernica’s violent and destructive energy essentially conceived itself. The impact observation can have on us from our homes is unlimited as long as we’re open to it. This gestation process of observation is equally as important as your muscles pulling a paintbrush across a canvas. Sometimes, for me this can be as simple as noticing how it feels to eat an orange. Other times it takes conscious effort to discern the observations of my own mind and body. If I’m unwilling to acknowledge these observations, then my art cannot speak for itself…it always seems to suffer as a result.

So as a resolution to all of this, I want to earnestly remind myself and anyone else who is struggling that it is okay to take it easy. Take time to feel the volatile energy in the air at the grocery store, notice any unhappiness and unrest that you might be feeling, and be sure to honor your outrage, indignation, or moments of peace amidst this crisis. So often for me, this gestation precedes creation…however, other it’s also important to note that it doesn’t always have to. Inspiration can come from an infinitely broad amount of sources, but I’ve found that nurturing the intuitive side of myself creates a channel where inspiration is allowed to flow at a steady pace. The Coronavirus might have separated us from our school, our studios, our jobs, or our hobbies, but it has given us plenty of material to work with. It’s just a matter of looking for it.

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