• Mary T

Quarantine Renaissance

Updated: May 9

As the global pandemic stretches into it's sixth month I am greatful for all the ways my arts community is adjusting. Many of us are embracing new ways to make our art. We are making Quarantine Art! Through conversations with colleagues in New York, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Chile, Chicago and California I have learned a million ways to get creative at home.

For me personally, it has been a time to focus on composition and develop my own creative process around dances made for the camera. How can I use my fine arts background and my writing work to inform my vocabulary development in this new medium? What is possible when filming with an iPhone?!

My daily process usually involves a long walk in which I practice close looking, treasure hunting and begin to sensitize myself for the intuitive practice of making. Below is the sea glass collection I have been building since March. This may turn into some kind of mosaic. As a teaching artist at the ICA and the DeCordova Museum I have become familiar with the New England Artist Mark Dion. So some of this collecting and arranging has been inspired by his work. After a walk I spend time improvising, filming footage, doing yoga, taking online class or working with a video collage in iMovie. I usually think about the footage like a collage and have little conscious knowledge of the narrative arc before I see something in front of me and feel my way through a piece of music. Then, the work begins to show itself to me, and it tells me what it wants to be. On a good day, this way of organizing my time feels like a creative residency!

In terms of performance opportunities, I find that in many ways the playing field has been leveled by the pandemic! Social Media is replacing theaters and that has made it more economically viable for me to self produce my work and share it with an audience. Instead of spending time applying for grants, I can spend time being an artist. The gift of the CARES act and PUA insurance in Massachusetts has made me feel as though I am an artist in a socialist European country. Once a week I get a check from the government to do "my process." Again I come back to the fact that imagination is hard work. This crafting of my own process is just as important as other more codified jobs our society has validated. So, I find peace in that. But I still miss teaching kids and I still have questions: Is it a gift to be able to give life to my imagination in this way? Would everyone one want to/ be able to do this kind of generating if given time and space? Does everyone need to hear what I have to say? What is the artists' responsibility in times of crisis? How can our work be an offering to the greater good? How does the Eurocentric conception of 'an artist' interrupt the relevance of this practice? I don't know...

For now, I feel happy to ponder and gestate. My goal is to make one piece every month. At least this is how I have been trying to make lemons into lemonade... Here you can see the work I've made for months April 2020 through March 2021, one the gallery page there are also the beginnings of work descriptions. Some themes came up over and over again through the months; waiting, confinement, melancholy, simplicity and a worship of the everyday. I also realized halfway through, as I came a bit out of the fog of lock down, that I was making videos with music I did not have licensing to use. Upon reflection I decided it was still ok to publish them because 1.) we are in general experiencing an capitalism moment and 2.) the videos are 100% for educational purposes. If you look at it a certain way you could say I took 2020 to teach myself dance composition. The videos are essentially my own autodidactic venture into screen dance and video editing.

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