A person in red is standing outside painting on a canvas which is already blue with an orange face
Students paint during the March 2018 Student Art Exhibition Reception on the Yuma Campus. Photo by Alex Lastra, AWC Photo Services.

Art in the Time of Quarantine

It didn’t take long to find the perfect place to stop along the Colorado River – cool, scenic and quiet, with the soft sounds of nature competing with the hum of the occasional car in the distance. I pulled out my sketchbook and pencil and enjoyed some early morning doodles. Despite the stress of the global pandemic and the isolation that comes hand in hand with quarantine, I have found a sense of peace and community in art.

With so many of us having to put our lives on hold for COVID-19, it becomes easy to fall into a state of despondence, wondering when things will return to normal. Creating art is a wonderful way to inject color, passion, creativity and accomplishment when everything seems at a standstill. After all, the world was gifted with the Renaissance after the devastation of the Bubonic Plague. 

If you’re interested in the art of drawing or painting, Bill Blomquist, AWC art professor, has some sage advice: “Go outside away from people, find a quiet place to commune with nature and experience it by recording sensations in your sketchbook.”

Pencils and watercolor paints travel easily, making them perfect for a nature hike. Blomquist also points out the importance of taking it easy on yourself and allowing yourself to express your feelings. The sense of achievement that comes from finishing an art piece is a rewarding goal.

If pencils and brushes aren’t your thing, what about pen and paper? If you feel like diving into the world of creative writing, Dr. Eric Lee, Professor of English has some suggestions: keep a daily journal to compile your thoughts and feelings or try free-writing exercises where you write whatever comes to mind without stopping for 5-10 minutes. Don’t forget to use the resources available to you in the AWC Library, and consider enrolling in a creative writing or fine arts class in the Fall.

“Remember, art is what blooms after we recover from tragedy,” said Lee.

Or maybe performance is your medium. With rehearsals cancelled and recitals delayed, you can still enjoy the excitement at home. Some actors are sharing their performances online, some musicians are holding concerts from home and others are challenging themselves to read a sonnet by Shakespeare every day. (Thank you, Sir Patrick Stewart!)

Professor of Music Deltrina Grimes also has a few suggestions for artists during this time: stay connected, get moving and build community by sharing your talents. Take the time to reach out to others for advice, help and creative ideas. Make sure to keep your body and mind healthy by moving around. The physical energy exerted can help clear your mind as well.

With so many ways to hone your talents, the next step is to showcase them. The Student Showcase at AWC went virtual this year, and participants were considered for $5000 in scholarships from Gowan Company. Applicants submitted a 5-8 minute video explaining their project or presentation, and a week-long virtual showcase was held, with the awards announced on May 13.

With our world in a constant state of change, it’s important to remember our connection to those around us.

“Music really isn’t on the page,” said Grimes. “It’s in our community.”

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