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Artists create a collective together during a time of crisis

As the earth continues to revolve around the sun, the consequences of a pandemic continues to ravage through humanity. Everywhere we turn, we are faced with those consequences, in varying degrees. Thousands of people are dying, businesses are closing, supplies are running out, grocery store shelves are empty and we are all afraid. Not only are we faced with this trauma every day, but many of us are going through this crisis alone. All we have throughout this quarantine is ourselves, and for some, that is the most difficult aspect of self-isolation.

I have a lot of privilege during this quarantine that I want to address right off the bat. I am lucky to not have to be at work, to be able to survive financially, and I have an incredibly loving and supportive partner who literally is the reason I can get out of bed. All that being said, I’m still struggling. I’m not an incredibly social person, but I do feel like I’m missing something. I’m missing the connection we can get from fleeting interactions, before we had six feet and masks between us.

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Missing strangers, an essay.

A post shared by Fran Meneses (@frannerd) on

Fran didn’t participate in the exhibition, though this comic illustrates exactly this feel

Then something really fucking cool happened. Something that fills my heart with so much love and joy, something that fills me to the brim and I’m overwhelmed with emotion and I get teary eyed. I’m feeling incredibly grateful to be a part of something so great, and that’s the Lockdown Exhibition that I’ve participated in twice now, over on instagram.

#LockdownExhibition was first introduced to me by Alice Partington, an incredible artist that works in various mediums addressing female sexuality, menstruation and channeling pain through art. She sent me to Sophie Parker, an artist who embroiders and challenges many norms, breaking taboos surrounding menstruation and other aspects of existence. At the time, Sophie was recruiting artists for the very first Lockdown Exhibition. A simple way for artists to share their work with their followers, to gain community and to do something with a group of people that is distracting and healthy for our souls. A virtual art gallery, where every artist shares their work however they please, from the comfort of their own home, for viewers to enjoy from the comfort of theirs.

beautiful poster design by Sophie Parker

I had just completed reorganizing my home studio space, and I realized this is something that I had to do. I went through my surprisingly large collection of art, and covered my whole studio in my completed artwork. I felt the rise of anxiety in my chest, I had intrusive thoughts, I thought I couldn’t do it at points. But then I would get on instagram, and started meeting other artists participating in the virtual art show. I saw what they were working on, we shared our struggles and eventually I was able to push through the anxiety and put together a whole gallery in my studio. If you would like to view my first exhibit, you can see it in my insta highlights on my profile.

My first Lockdown Exhibition

On April 25, Sophie organized our second Lockdown Exhibition, and this time, she asked the participating artists what our theme should be. We discussed many options (some of which may come around in the future) and eventually settled on the theme: Bodies. The first exhibit didn’t have any goals in mind other than show your art! This time, many of us spent the week leading up to #LockdownExhibition2 creating pieces surrounding the theme. And oh my god, it was incredible.

Sophie’s second Lockdown Exhibition flyer

Everyone approached this theme differently, using their mediums to illustrate a story, then documenting it to share with us online. For many artists, their work is done and that’s kind of where it ends. Because this online art show needs the artist to share it, I felt like collectively we were growing closer to our own creativity. Not only did we have to paint, embroider, sculpt, dance, draw something relating to bodies, but we had control over how we were going to show what we created. I have never seen so much art that moved me the way this exhibition did. The sun set on my home studio, and I scrolled through instagram sharing every single artist I came across. We all reflected on this era we are living in. We all felt.

The aspect of this theme I wanted to focus on was our shared experience, as humans with bodies. I took to my various social media platforms, and asked existential questions and held polls about our sense of self and bodies. I wanted to gain as much of each other as I could, since that’s something that is really hard for us to do right now. I took the time leading up to the exhibit to create a handmade book, and collected all the aspects of humanity that I collected and placed in one place. If you’d like to see a flip through of the book I made, take a look below. I also created some paintings of bodies, some of people, and some were self-portraits, and some were just that – bodies.

While we are still existing in a world where things don’t look like they’re looking up any time soon, this exhibit showed me we have the ability within ourselves to connect humanity. We may not have much, but we have ourselves, our bodies and our minds. We have creativity, and we have something to lean on when things feel impossible. This exhibition didn’t change the state of the world, but it changed the state of mine. And I am forever grateful to Sophie for this beautiful gift. 

my bOdies exhibt

If you would like to see what we created for this exhibition, please visit the #LockdownExhibition2 hashtag on instagram. Most of us also saved our exhibits as posts or in our insta highlights, for you to view. Be sure to follow Sophie if you would like to participate in the next Lockdown Exhibition, or if you want to see what we got goin on for the next virtual art show. We may be self-isolating, but we are not alone. 

until next time,

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