COVID-19 has caused disruptions to all segments of society, and Airdrie’s art community has not been an exception. Artists are not a monolithic group, said painter Cindy Zampa, and they are responding to the pandemic in a variety of ways.
Local artist Veronica Funk said creating has become an important way of coping during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has caused disruptions to all segments of society, and Airdrie’s art community has not been an exception.
Artists are not a monolithic group, said painter Cindy Zampa, and they are responding to the pandemic in a variety of ways. Every artist is different and in a different situation, she said, but those in her circles feel overwhelmed, despite having plenty of time stuck at home.
“We are not really creating right now,” she said. “My background as a counselor is telling me that this is our normal crisis response. When you’re in survival mode – the impact of all that we’re seeing in the news and hearing has increased a lot of peoples fear and anxiety and a sense of helplessness.”
Local artist Veronica Funk said another impact on those in the creative fields – resulting from physical distancing measures and restrictions on gatherings – is the closure of galleries and exhibits where artists can display, and more importantly, sell, their work. Funk said she is currently unable to exhibit her work or teach, which creates financial challenges for people that generate income through the arts.
Zampa concurred, noting the cancellation of events that would normally occur at this time of year like Airdrie Regional Arts Society’s annual Spring Show has hit artists in the pocketbook – they are, in a sense, laid off. It has also limited artists’ ability to connect their work with an audience.
“If galleries can’t be open and people can’t actually physically come to see art at a show, it’s going to be really sad,” she said. “That, to me anyways, is where the magic happens – in that face to face,” she said.
For Funk, being at home more has resulted in more time to work on larger projects.
“The other thing that’s been fantastic for me, and I’m sure for a lot of artists, is just to keep creating,” Funk said. “Mental health is such a huge topic of conversation right now – even before COVID-19, but it’s even more important right now to recognize how important it is to take care of ourselves not only physically but mentally. Personally, art certainly is the thing that saves me.”
Zampa echoed those sentiments, saying art has become a therapeutic way to deal with the stress that accompanies the constant news about the coronavirus.
“I’ve done a lot of art, but I’ll tell you, it is not for public consumption,” Zampa said. “It’s about relief and release of anxiety. It’s a way of calming my mind and it’s a way of handling the stress for myself.”
As artists remain physically distant, Funk said Airdrie’s creative community is still able to support each other and collaborate.
“Thank goodness for the internet and social media; we can give each other words of encouragement,” she said. “Just to see what people are creating…people are shipping each other artwork and trying new things, experimenting as artists. It’s really wonderful to see what’s coming out of that.”
This helps combat a sense of isolation that can set in while confined at home, she added.
Funk said the biggest way Airdrie can support its art community, both through and after the current health crisis, is to support them financially. Leaving kind comments or sending an email to your favourite local artist can also inspire them to continue creating, she said.
“Now, more than ever, is when art becomes important,” Zampas noted. “For some people, art can be that form of distraction, art can be that way of connecting with other people. Certainly for me, it’s a way of healing through all of this.”
Ben Sherick, Airdrie City View (AirdrieToday.com)
Follow me on Twitter @BenSherick