Now that the world has had a chance to settle into the groove of self isolation, I have noticed something about my various responses to this unprecedented situation. At first my instincts were to comb through my studio and reorganize everything, to seize the opportunity afforded to me that comes with an empty calendar. I spent a few days preparing for busy times ahead and innocently assumed that I would keep that momentum going.
Next came grieving, a malaise that crept over me as I saw all sorts of plans I had poured time and energy into evaporate. Things that filled my cup or that I had been greatly anticipating were scrubbed from my foreseeable future within a matter of hours. While I am normally quite an optimistic person, this blow kept me down for a little while as I processed the long term implications of this pandemic.
Thankfully, this eventually lifted and I shifted into passionately wanting to help and bring change. To use this time to reach out to people and do what I could to find good things in a bad situation. While I was experiencing the euphoria of this phase, a few connections were made and some wonderful moments were had. This type of phase is hard to sustain though, so it steadily declined after it peaked.
Then the numbers on the news started to get to me. The idea of going out and being near potential infection became a sobering reality. Low grade worry about health in my household and for vulnerable friends and family settled in. Self isolation became forefront in my routine and not only did I close myself off to the physical world, I retreated from the social world for a couple days.
Now I am bored, so I am puttering around in my studio but not really working. Hibernation is a good word for where I am at currently. I feel like the frozen dirt under the snow that is waiting for the thaw. The potential for work and growth is there, but right now it is not the season.
The past few days have been difficult ones for anyone who makes their livelihood in the arts sector (or gig-economy in general). Each morning our social media and inboxes have been flooded with a kaleidoscope of changing plans to sanitize openings and classrooms to putting workshops off a week or two to finally, with our province declaring a state of emergency, indefinitely postponing all workshops, classes, openings, talks and even closing museums and galleries.
Disappointing, but absolutely the right thing to do - as an instructor, my first priority is the well being of the people in my classes. Your health is important, my health is important as is the health of our loved ones. Painting, letterpress and linocut can wait a few more weeks.
Some thoughts for all of you who have received those disappointing emails over the past few days. If your financial situation has become more precarious since all these closures and announcements have come - please take refunds if they are offered and then sign up for things when your situation has improved. If you are doing okay, please keep yourself registered so that class can resume. If you are doing okay but the new date doesn't work, consider transferring your registration to someone who could use a pick me up or donate the registration fee to the organization who is hosting the workshop.
We artists and instructors are going to be hit by this in the coming months, so if you are in a place to buy art or theatre tickets or sign up for interesting classes just know that you will be helping a lot of people who might need it. Contract workers and freelancers tend to fall through typical safety nets during times like this, so every bit of art related support helps us all in the end.
For those of you who are fellow artists, instructors or are also put in a place of financial instability from this pandemic, let's have each other's backs through all this. Make a commitment to liking and sharing each other's posts and commenting support through our social media channels.
I'll be totally honest about the last part I typed - this morning I was feeling pretty down about all these postponements and worried about people and organizations that I truly love. At some point, I just decided it was time to spread some sort of positive feeling on all the posts I came across. Let's all just decide to do that in the coming days. I know I felt better immediately and a little more in control of how I felt about all this.
Stay safe and healthy, wash your hands, make art, sleep more, get some sunshine and don't hoard toilet paper. We are all in this together and I promise that soon enough things will start creaking back into a normal routine. When it does, I'll be waiting and ready to teach that darn workshop that just got postponed!