Artists and Poets Respond to the Pandemic
An Online Exhibition (May 2020)
If the world will not go away then the great discipline seems to be the ability to make an identity that can live in the midst of everything without feeling beset.
~ David Whyte, “Besieged” in Consolations
Beauty invites us, through entrancement, to that fearful frontier between what we think makes us; and what we think makes the world.
~ David Whyte, “Beauty” in Consolations
Since the first human in China became infected with the novel coronavirus, we have watched the virus spread across the world and transform how we all live, feeling, as David Whyte says in his book Consolations, besieged. We cannot see, hear, smell, or touch this new virus, which makes it more frightening. Faced with the disease it fosters, Covid-19, our lack of knowledge about its cause and behavior and the absence of either a vaccine or a cure leave us struggling in ways we’ve never before experienced. We find ourselves quarantined or isolated and sheltering in our homes, unable to see friends or visit our extended families. In the worst case, we are cut off from those we love who become ill and are unable to say goodbye to those we love who have died. The pain of our anxieties, our fears, and our grief is palpable.
We also, however, have found new reasons to be grateful for our technologies and for how these tools allow us to share and document our feelings, tell our stories, help us feel less alone.
Indeed, if you have spent any time at all on social media, you cannot help but note the calls to post beautiful art and writing as antidotes to the negative effects we’re all experiencing during the pandemic: loss of friends and families, quarantining and isolation, physical distancing (also known as social distancing), job and income loss, insufficient medical equipment and supplies for hospitals and other healthcare facilities, closures of schools and recreational facilities, and so on. Churches, too, once our sanctuaries, have been closed and locked, forcing us to find new ways to be in communion with those who share our faith and religion.
This online exhibition is intended to get us thinking about and discussing the stories we tell through our visual art and poetry, not only the paradoxes and ambiguities of our lives at this moment but also what ways and how we might reshape our futures.
The exhibition is also intended to create with beautiful art and writing a space for inspiration, connection and community, hope and comfort, remembrance and healing, and love. To discover what is “essential” and what is not. As Alexandria, Virginia, pastor and artist Lisa Smith, remarks, “In ugly times, we realize beauty is a necessity. Art nourishes our souls, connects us to one another, and helps us find meaning and purpose.”
All are welcome to view this exhibition and share it with others by linking to the Arts & Faith section of the Website of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, which supports the arts ministry that made this exhibition possible.
We hope you find this to be a quiet space for reflection, a place to be inspired by the beauty of the artwork and the hope expressed in some of the poems, a source for discussion, and a community made possible not only because of the talented artists’ and poets’ generous contributions to this project but also because you are here.
Artist and poet Stacy Ericson created the musical playlist, with my many thanks
Carolyn M. Abrams, Salma Arastu, Billie Bond, Manal Deeb, Greg Dunn, Stacy Ericson, Lisa Goesling, Margitta Hanff, Laurie Klein, Pauline Kusiak, Marcus Parsons, Linda Plaisted, Amy Pleasant, Elise Ritter, Tighe O’Donoghue/Ross, Patrick Seruwu, Kari Gunter-Seymour, Kathleen Stark, Jeanie Tomanek, Sue Turayhi, Angela White, Joyce Wycoff
Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Salma Arastu, Laura Boggess, Lorna Cahall, Maureen E. Doallas, Marjorie Maddox Hafer, Marc Harshman, Laurie Klein, Yahia Lababidi, Robert McDowell, Drew Myron, Michelle Ortega, Christine Valters Paintner, Sheikha A., Martha Silano, Judith Sornberger, Diane Walker, Shanna Powlus Wheeler
Maureen E. Doallas
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church