When COVID shifted my everyday life from the classroom to teaching from my home, I didn’t see many perks in the situation. I missed the visceral quality of teaching in person, of improvising and spontaneously demonstrating a drawing skill or sitting in front of a student while they work out and articulate an idea. Yet as I reflect on my own art practice this year, I found that it is not only alive, but thriving. We have lost so much to the pandemic, and should allow ourselves space to grieve, but it’s just as important to me to see what I’ve gained from the predicament we’re in.
As I look back on this year, three major gains come to mind.
First, I have had more time to create work that is immediate and relevant, based on references from daily outings I can now take every day.
Second, I have prioritized my own self-care, and have gained confidence within myself that stretches onto my paper and canvas. My lines are freer, yet more controlled than prior years, and I accredit both steadiness and the quantity of work I’ve made to this new-found artistic confidence.
Last, I have found a partner who believes in my ability in anything I pursue, and who gives precise, constructive feedback to strengthen my artwork (while letting me be unless I ask!)
With the struggles we have been through this year, I will not ignore the privilege that has allowed me these gains. My freedom to ponder, to create, and to absorb the wonder of the world around me during a time that is insurmountably challenging for so many is nothing less than white privilege. But instead of guilt, I choose to relish and appreciate the world that I have largely inherited. We all deserve to feel as grateful and empowered as I do now, but deserving something is not the catalyst for change. Instead I feel we need to continue the fight to allow people the time, curiosity, and inspiration to pursue creative expression, and to use our voices to advocate for change. So many people are not benefiting from capitalist America. As recently I read on a holiday card, ‘I can no longer accept what I cannot change, I can change what I cannot accept’.