While artist and gallery clientele has gone into hermit mode, many artists haven’t stopped creating.
“In that moment when I'm creating it's just me and the sheet of paper,” Jessica Clermont, a 19-year-old UF visual art studies sophomore, said. “I'm unbothered, I'm at peace, and it's the best feeling ever for me. So during quarantine and with the stress of the news, the media, everything, to calm myself down and ground myself, I want to use this time to focus on myself.”
Inspired by the art made by her brother and cousin, Clermont’s art progressed from doodles to paintings in her junior year of high school. While she took an art class at school, Clermont was self-taught. Her art has always been experimental, she said. Now, during isolation, she is refining her style.
“I've been trying to develop my style and see what it means to me,” she said. “Now I think it's more personal and more in tune with myself.”
Since April 1, Clermont has drawn with ink and painted pieces every weekend as a part of a series called “QuarINKtine Edition.” She posts her art on Instagram almost every day.
Within the “QuarINKtine Edition,” the “Dreams of the Motherland” theme features black women.
“To me, it was kicking back to black culture and the deep roots of it and just the beauty of black women,” she said. “And I don't see that every day, to be honest with you, so it's just like a dream.”
She said that the edition pushed her out of a slump and has forced her to create. Through her art, Clermont feels connected to herself.
“Whatever happened during the day prior to that kind of washes away and I go back to being myself, I go back into the mindset of why I’m doing this and what this means to me,” she said. “Afterwards, I get motivated and direct my attention to what I have to do to get better and where I want to be.”
Isabel Acosta, a 36-year-old Gainesville resident and photographer, said being apart from her native home in Brazil and faced with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 has made her feel disconnected from herself.
In late April, she had plans for a solo exhibition at TheSL8 Art Gallery in Gainesville, as well as other art galleries. Now that business and income has slowed down, she feels off-balance.
Acosta aims to address issues related to the environment with her portraits. While she is self-isolating, she produces self-portraits and takes photos of flowers and foliage.
“The pandemic is teaching me that for a world in transition, great personal transformations are needed,” she said. “In my case, the themes and causes I want to address have become increasingly clear and more proactive.”
At the end of May, she plans to do a photography project based on the feeling of social detachment and loneliness evoked by the isolation.
“My intention is to turn my melancholy into positive action,” she said.
According to UF psychology professor Andreas Keil, the brain craves creation.
“You learn something new, you make something new, you learn to play a piece on your guitar or on your piano, that actually challenges your brain and like a muscle in your body it really thrives when it is being challenged in that way,” he said. “There are these direct effects where you can look at art as a really nice way to challenge your brain to reshape and remake itself in an interaction with the environment that's also beautiful, fulfilling and emotionally rewarding.”
To Keil, art is innately human, whether it is in a museum or is the carefully placed pavement at home.
“Every human being is an artist, if they want it or not, because we're built to make art all the time, it's a question of how we define art,” he said.
For these artists and for Keil, who plays the piano and organ, art has brought peace into their lives in the midst of a global pandemic.
Contact Katie Delk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @katie_delk.
At home during the pandemic, Isabel Acosta, 36-year-old Gainesville resident, captures photos of foliage for her new project related to the environment.
Katie Delk is a sophomore with a journalism major and an anthropology minor. For the Avenue, she writes about music, culture and the environment. When she is not writing, she is outside with the trees, reading a fantasy book or listening to Beach House.