Artist's Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

image by Roxanna Mesco

Aiden Edward Wallace Ashley

In a time of hysteria and uncertainty this so called Covid-19 has contracted the country to stay at home and has claimed thousands of lives in the midst of the pandemic. However, as a citizen I’ve been obligated to protect my neighbors by social distancing and wearing a face mask when the rest of the country is either dying from Covid-19 or surviving it. I at first feel uncertain by what my future holds as a coming Senior going on to graduating next year.

I was uncertain how I could obtain art supplies in the midst of the pandemic, but fortunately I found a way tobuy the art supplies I need to create my art as an artist. In thinking about what is going on in the country with Covid-19 It doesn’t affect me that much that I feel like this is an opportunity to get back to my creativity by spending time focusing on my art. And hopefully I would be able to return in the fall when the University of New Mexico reopens and get on with finishing up my remaining classes for graduation next year.

Anita I. Martinez

I am blessed, at this time, to have food, to have shelter, to have loving friends and family who are well.  My heart goes out to all those who do not have and I will somehow fight, wrestle, beg, demand for all to have.

Jacqueline Arellano

In the beginning we thought we could avoid it. Not think about it. Carry on with our lives.
But speculation surrounded us
And evidence preceded talk.

And then they closed the university
And limited movie theater and dining area capacities.
Within the week I lost my job and our privilege to have in-person classes with the remainder
of our final semester of college in question.
Restaurants, malls, and gyms closed- limiting eating places to take out.
All non-essential businesses followed
Access to state parks was forbidden and gatherings of people were limited to groups of five.
No social gatherings
Stand at least 6 feet apart
Cover your face.
We were instructed to leave our homes solely for emergency trips.

Lines to enter a business are standard
Unmasked faces are the oddity
And online classes meet weekly.
Businesses operate curbside
and a Google search features Dine-in, Takeout, and Delivery options.
People adapt
Life goes on.

James West

Not until we have lost this world and ourselves do, we begin to find all within. Then, it is when we understand the meanings and timeless nature of relations.

Joseph Ortega

Expansive, focused studio time is elemental for many of us in the art making process, allowing us the capacity to be prolific, to explore ideas, and to cultivate and actualize our creative, conceptual powers. The sudden circumstance of actually having more continuous studio time to focus and create is a multilayered gift. School and art went online/at home for the rest of the Spring Semester due to the shutdown of the university campus and quarantining because of the global pandemic, and although the intensity and difficulty of what we are experiencing as a collective is still in effect with many unforeseen phases and challenges ahead, in many ways this change of pace has turned out for the best.

The sudden gift of staying focused at home without the task of traveling from one place to the next throughout the day has augmented time efficiency in terms of studies and therefore provided a richer substrate for creativity and productivity to also flourish. It was all an unexpected way to begin transitioning out of the formal structure of school, pass through the portal of graduation, and return fully to the realm of the studio…

Winter yielded Spring
Roaring engines were quieted
Robins sang like flutes

Katie Harkins

At first, I kept track of the days with tweets like “day 4 of quarantine: just made TikTok account”. My day 16 it was less of a joke and more of an eye opening experience that is linking us together unlike anything has before. Though this time of uncertainty has caused chaos and a loss of normality, I have realized how much I appreciate little things that I took for granted before. I never thought I would miss waking up for an 8am class, but I do. I miss breaking through the fresh morning air and watching the city wake up as I walk to campus. I miss being able to gather with large groups of people, going to concerts, and visiting my grandparents. In so many ways our communities have been negatively impacted and balance has been lost, but this pandemic has allowed me to appreciate so many privileges that I have always had but took for granted.

Laura Feierman

Classes as usual, friendly faces
On a roll, about to graduate
Pandemic hits, social distance
Stores are empty, must disinfect this
Worlds on hold, friends are afar
Uncertain times, as people fade away
No goodbyes, as we quietly graduate
Future is unknown, after this outbreak

Lindsey Alvarez

A virus has forced the world into quarantine, and our nation was not prepared. Fingers can be pointed to and people can blame whoever they want, but it does not change anything. In an effort to shorten the curve people stayed at home, but after a few weeks they grew impatient. Some are protesting so they can work, others are protesting for the luxuries of salons. Meanwhile, nature is reclaiming its habitats and healing. There is so much more I could say, but all I can do right now is hope that us humans are able to learn something from these events.

Nicole Celeste Anderson

On the back of my grocery list, I scrawl this pandemic statement. A few hours before our class meeting on zoom, I stand in line, six feet apart, bandana tied over my face, and I feel little spikes of adrenaline as I debate what to write about.

My eldest child just opened my door while I was typing, to ask when I would be done. I made it home, four gallons of milk and several paper bags of food later. Quarantining at home with my partner of 15 years and our three children, I have very little uninterrupted time. I perpetually reassert boundaries, and constantly shift activities, to pour extra care on the little ones – to coregulate, to reassure, to engage and educate. My partner and I take turns doing our homework in shifts. I’ve been going to university since Spring 2014. Each semester I thought maybe it would get easier. By the time the pandemic hit, I laughed at the absurdity of circumstance. After multiple obstacles these past six years of college, arriving at this apocalyptic finish line feels anticlimactic.

I have survivor guilt, and immense gratitude as I sit in my home: airconditioned, fed, able to have a place to pause, fry onions, wash laundry, make tea. I experienced homelessness (i.e. long term non-recreational tent camping) and was underhoused (trailers off the grid, hauling water, without indoor plumbing) for most of my young adulthood. Being in less acute personal crisis makes it feel more surreal, now, to face this culmination of global crises compounded by the pandemic: of for-profit healthcare, medical racism, failing infrastructure, climate collapse. I thank farmers, healthcare workers. I brainstorm alternate subsistence strategies for a nebulous future.

Physical comfort adds to a feeling of dissociation – you know there is a threat – but it is … gradual … I read firsthand accounts of doctors without effective protective gear, pleading stay home. I look at photographs of nurses in scrubs staring down armed “protesters” (let’s call them terrorists) blocking emergency rooms, photos of armed men brandishing signs reading, “I want a haircut.”

I flinch at the phrase we’re all in this together as inequities forged by foundational colonial violence of genocide and slavery increase, and disparities between working class and billionaires surge, collecting unprecedented profits while their employees traverse hazardous working conditions. I rage at distorted narratives, siphoned up from the American subconscious of founding fathers: the mythology of white innocence.

I cycle through grief, rage, numbness. I connect to my family. I ground by watering corn sprouts in my front yard. I walk at dusk, collecting poppy pods in vacant lots, to reseed next year. I research indigenous lead, women fronted coalitions of mutual aid, to pass on some of our stimulus check to, such as nonprofits for undocumented immigrants who aren’t receiving assistance. I consider how we as artists have the power to shape culture, the way microorganisms process toxins from soil through bioremediation. With accountability, compassion and creativity, we will collectively regenerate a holistic future.

Roxanna Mesco

Quarantine Day 32
today she wore pants
what to wear when panicking
elastic waistband

Quarnatine Day 34
gratitude is slooow
I don’t trust time anymore
what day is today

Quarantine Day 35
ain’t nothin’ to it
quarantine made me do it
stay home everyday

Quarantine Day 36
woke up sick again
what if it’s covid-19
I almost hope so

Quarantine Day 37
the sun is shining
catching rainbows is no problem
staying home is hard

Quarantine Day 39
I just keep asking
what is different today
this is still the same

Quarantine Day 40
all I do is eat
putting on pandemic pounds
the fuck-it 50

Quarantine Day 41
I just discovered
wire only has one syllable
quarantine learning

Quarantine Day 42
cooped up and crazy
my patience is paper thin
screaming through my soul

Quarantine Day 45
cabbages flying
delirium has set in
what is this nonsense

Savion Agnew

How I feel about my experience with this pandemic right now it kind of hurts that we cannot show our work out to the public but it is really cool to do a online exhibition so that way people can still everyone’s art work. it has caused an effect on all of us but the cool part about this is that we can be more and more creative when it comes to making banners, do more creative things for the public to see, but it just sucks that the public cannot see it outside and they have to go on their computer and look at the exhibition.

To me it makes it harder for people because some people do not have wi-fi or internet to look at the show, so they would have to regroup themselves just to get internet to look at a Senior Capstone Exhibition. It takes time for people to get on the internet, look for the link to see the show, I don’t know I just feel like it has decreased the class and all of us for exposure and all of our contacts because of internet and not meeting people in person. It has a really big effect on people that they will not be able to finish out the way wanted to especially with being a senior and trying to graduate.

Wheeler Graye

Quarantine has given me the time and space to work on art in a way i have never had before, but it forgot to give me the attention span to get anything done. All I do now is sit, drink tea, learn Norwegian, curse my forefathers, and cry.

Emma Sobel

This pandemic has been a rollercoaster of emotions. It is hard to put into words what my experience has been like while we are still in it. There has been a lot anxiety, fear, apathy, and even pockets of joy and hope. I know that this is something I will never forget. What I will say is that I am grateful to have a home, my health, love, and art. I am grateful to have a class of passionate hardworking fellow artists working together to create this exhibit. Even without access to studios I always keep these words close to me…

Art is not a thing; It is a way