My thought lately has been: is there going be fantastic art as a result of this COVID19 pandemic? Would this pandemic distract us, hurt us, overwhelm us enough to inspire us to make impactful art? And would artists and painters be remembered as we remember Munch or Keith? Or would these times be only defined by The Renegade? So many questions.
Art In the Times of Pandemics
Today, as I started to read a bit more about some historic Venezuelan painters to get inspired, I came across Cristobal Rojas’ painting, La Miseria (The Misery.) It shows a young husband sitting next to his sick wife. She just died of tuberculosis, an infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs. I was freaked out and amazed by the way he portrayed the face of the wife.
This painting, and many others from Cristobal Rojas, gave me a clear idea of what it was like to experience a pandemic take over and start wiping out loved ones. It was there; it was real; it was all around him. I’d think he was probably profoundly affected and impacted by it, so much so, that it defined his craft and for what he is remembered for.
That, of course, got me curious and I started to read about other artists around the world that created art during (or inspired by) a pandemic. I learned about Norwegian expressionist artist Edvard Munch, who did self-portrait after he survived the Spanish Flu and Titian, who died of the plague. Titian’s last work was Pieta, where he shows a dramatic and nocturnal scene of suffering.
Art In the Times of COVID19
But what about now? Modern medicine and modern technology change how we deal with a pandemic. There is more access to creative tools and so many ways that we can share and access art. Would paintings and digital art be what we remember? Or would it only be the Coronavirus Memes and the TikTok dances? Is that what would be considered “art” in the future? What about the powerful photography of our badass nurses working hard? Would that be forgotten?
I obviously do not have the answer to those questions. However, what I do know is that fantastic art is being produced during COVID19 times. And, I am all about that. I am currently following #StayHomeCreateArt over at Ello. I am happy to see artwork that doesn’t only represent the pain that the ‘Rona has brought, but also celebrates our nurses and health care professionals. I have also seen work that GOOD message: stay home, wash your hands, and, most importantly: DO NOT INJECT BLEACH INTO YOUR SKIN.
For what is worth, if you are creating art during this pandemic: I see you. I will remember you. And while I can’t promise you that you or your artwork will be remembered the way that artists were recognized back in the early 1900s, that should not stop you from expressing yourself.
Document these crazy times. Show your pain or frustration. Share your work. Even if it’s a TikTok dance video, photography, or an oil painting, it will represent this reality that we are all are experiencing. However, art will also come out of pain from being ill, from losing someone, from losing your job. Those artists should be the ones we don’t forget, along with our healthcare professionals, they need to be supported, by you, by us.