How are artists nurturing their creativity and staying inspired under the COVID-19 lockdown? “Southland Sessions” reached out to a few local artists online to find out.
For the most part, they’re doing the same things we all are: catching up on TV and movies, reading, listening to music and podcasts, walking, gardening, cooking, taking classes and staying connected with friends and family. Artists also discussed how self-care, working within limitations, engaging spirituality and envisioning the future support creative practices. Here are some of the things they had to say:
“The most important thing I remember when I am feeling creatively blocked, frustrated or exhausted is that I need to take personal responsibility. If I am feeling creatively blocked I need to create access to my sources of inspiration. I need to have books, films, magazines, websites, friends, family, art, fashion and architecture in my life. If I am feeling frustrated I need to be able to access the tools I need to vent, converse, ask, cry or whatever I need to do to get past that frustration without damaging myself or those around me. If I am feeling exhausted, I have to take responsibility and say no to anything new … Artists need to learn that breaks are okay. The art world will live without you, and you will live without the art world while you take a 45-minute nap.”
— Mario Ybarra, Jr. via email
“[There have] been days that it was so hard that I had to feel my body in the water. So one day I went to the Santa Ana river, one day I went to the beach … It was just like, I need to wash this out, that sensation of having a natural course of water wash through you and take that away.”
Working With Limitations
“I’m doing small work, only 9.5” x 7.5“ in gouache. Staying very focused on each one and not making dozens and dozens of them. I’m not interested in quantity as much as using these small works as a device for staying very focused and clear … I think working in a very gentle and deliberately focused way is the only way I can manage staying connected to myself and my work. Everything else seems much too chaotic.”
— Lisa Adams via Instagram
See a slideshow of the works Adams references below by clicking through.
“With limited access to materials and less access to space to work in (I make large collages) I decided to challenge myself and not just continue with the same materials or format, but rather to do something I don’t do much anymore — draw! I limited the format to 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” and to only use a black pen. These materials allowed me to work anywhere and at any time. The goal was to create at least one drawing (or more) a day. I post the finished drawings on an Instagram account I created just for this project. The project has over 101 entries to date and represents each day we are left with dealing with this crisis. The project will later be composed into a single large-format collage I am calling the Quarantine Quilt (working title).
— Tm Gratkowski via Facebook
“I've been drinking a lot of tea and writing spells for protection from COVID, and justice for the people of this country. Saying prayers in the studio and conducting ritual magic helps me get outside of myself and to see myself as a stereo mechanism to a creative force greater than myself. Somehow if the work is in service to a greater force then my success or failure isn't personal.”
— Mary Anna Pomonis via Facebook
To See how Mary Anna Pomonis stays spritual, click through below.
“Fly fishing is solitary, but not solitary indoors. It takes me to spaces in L.A. that most people don’t go … For me it’s spiritual and a [Japanese American] tradition that also connects me to the work I do as an artist. It requires intense concentration, and awareness of your surroundings and ecology. It makes me think about the history of public space and the people of L.A. without interacting with others.”
— Devon Tsuno via Facebook
Envisioning the Future
“I think it’s a moment to rethink creativity and [how] as artists it permeates every aspect of our life … because sometimes we don’t see it; we need that recognition coming from a more official place, ‘Oh you’re creative because you put up a show, you printed a catalog, you were part of this fair, or you were part of this article or whatnot’.… You forget that it’s really an aspect of your every day, of every moment. It’s been really beautiful to see how work and everyday life meld again seamlessly because the art world can tend to divorce them.”
— Carolina Caycedo
“I have also taken up a meditation practice that to the naked eye might look like I am taking long naps … I let my pressing reality thoughts play for about five minutes and let them pass before my mind’s eye like a moving train. After the reality thoughts go by, I try to go into my imagination and a space of creativity with no limitations. I try to daydream and imagine what my fantasy studio would look like; I design what a school I want to create would look like, etc. I strongly believe making and creating in your mind’s eye is just as real as creating in the physical world.”
— Mario Ybarra, Jr. via email
Top Image: Lisa Adams, “Untitled 4,” 2020. | Courtesy of the artist