September 11, 2021 – December 4, 2021
Art makes a difference in how we live our lives, and in no time like the present have we seen the impact it has on everything from our daily experience to social movements. When our world changed in 2020 through crises of pandemic and social unrest, the creativity of artists flourished from space, time, and necessity. For so many of us, the early days of the pandemic will always bring forth images of musicians in Italy playing together from their separate balconies. Photographs of Black Lives Matter protests in cities throughout our country captured the reality of a social movement we hadn’t seen the scope of in at least a generation. People turned to hobbies new and old while at home for months – the baking, the painting, the renovations. We connected with creative stories in our favorite shows, movies, and podcasts. We became even more reliant on social media for communication and community. The spirit in humanity was both pushed and inspired in ways we never expected just months before it all began.
This exhibition – Art in the Time of Pandemic – brings together artists of all different backgrounds and experiences that have one thing in common – creating. In this exhibit, you will see the work of artists who responded to the pandemic and crises of our shared experience through drawing, painting, sculpting, design, photography and more. Some of our artists explored ideas close to home, while others used their work to connect where they could outside. Some used the time to rekindle creative impulses, or explore new media, while others were thankful for the time to creatively focus. They’ve processed feelings of hope, connection, loss, fear, anger, gratitude, isolation, love, and countless others that we have all shared these past two years.
Spend time with this diverse collection of work, read the artist statements that have been shared, and scan the QR codes to connect with the artists through their websites and social media.
Let this exhibit inspire us all towards the possible – for change and perseverance, for understanding and growth, for love and creation, for community and healing.
I have always been fascinated by objects and the life in them. I was always taking garbage and trying to make it into something useful. This has followed me into my art career. I believe that every object, like people, have a perfect placement to display its beauty.
Chris's art tells stories in great detail focused on the element of line. His body of work has been described as “obsessive narrative,” articulating his imagination while allowing for the work to take on a life of its own.
Though the lockdown way of life was undesirable and unwelcome, it did provide an opportunity for sustained and regular focus on my painting practice.
hroughout the pandemic I had a lot of time to reflect and really think about who I am, what I stood for, and who the world saw me as. In both my works, I feel as if I capture my essence and personality through the color red.
My sketches highlight the importance of connecting with nature during the pandemic. The subjects are outdoors and interacting with nature to heal, refresh and restore their minds and bodies.
To calm the unknown, I turned to what I love: early mornings and photography. I enjoy those quiet moments when it’s light and shadows; interrupted only with brief visits by birds, bugs, spiders and caterpillars.
This ongoing pandemic and modified work schedule helped me to be more in depth with human anatomy studies and overall landscapes and calligraphy techniques.
Creating art during the pandemic was more difficult than it ever has been simply because it was so necessary to create in order to escape from worry and the unknown, even if just for five minutes. It added pressure, but once the art was being made, it felt like fresh air. My personal work during the beginning of the pandemic was messy, and consisted mostly of abstract portraits or partial portraits that seemed blurry and hidden. I also worked a lot in my sketchbooks; focusing on patterns, clean lines, and order. All of which helped improve my skills but also keep my anxiety down.
I don’t remember myself not being an artist, from early childhood until now. My art has been evolving, going thru many different phases, media, and styles to what it is today. I have been choosing more organic shapes such as figurative and nature subjects lately. This ongoing pandemic and modified work schedule helped me to be more in-depth with human anatomy studies and overall landscapes and calligraphy techniques. I like to work with oils, charcoal, graphite pencil and for drawing and writing, I use fountain and dip pens. My art goal is to entertain the viewer and add beauty to an environment, as well as, a form of self-challenge to always evolve my craftsmanship to the next level.
I have always had a connection to the outdoors. I enjoy seeking out interesting and captivating wildlife. I often spend many hours in the field, searching for elusive encounters, hoping to capture that special moment. I hope to bring a feeling of wonder and appreciation for the natural world. We are the stewards of the natural world and are better human beings when we learn to live with and protect wildlife. I hope you enjoy the small sample of my work and hope that it made you smile.
Esteban Andres Rodriguez
Drawing is everything. My work pulls influences from my early interests in cartoons and comics. I find myself constantly observing things around me and analyzing them. This analysis allows me to see drawing not only as a way of recording but as a way of expressing internal thoughts. I believe you’re at your most creative when you’re truly relaxed, and working with large scale drawings allows my mind to wander into new ideas. I begin these large drawings spontaneously and with a clear mind. I lose myself within the work which allows for shifts in scale and changes in perspectives. These drawing are normally done in ink, with technical pens, brush pens, or conventional brushes. Ink is the medium that I have had a natural affinity with. Ink is also the quickest medium for laying out my ideas to maintain the spontaneity within the creative process. Overall, my practice explores my imaginative representation of the world around me. The content within the work relies heavily on my visual library.
In the beginning of the pandemic life was uncertain and tumultuous. To calm the unknown, I turned to what I love: early mornings and photography. I enjoy those quiet moments when it’s light and shadows; interrupted only with brief visits by birds, bugs, spiders and caterpillars. It was in those quiet moments that I saw the hummingbird sitting on the wire, alone but not appearing lonely. His presence offered a solace I hope that I captured.
Kathleen Tieri Ton
During the pandemic my roles as a mother, wife, daughter, & teacher were all called upon in ways that hadn’t been challenged before. In the beginning of the pandemic, when things were most difficult, I was so grateful to have my little basement studio to go to. There was so much fear and struggle that descended so quickly for us all, and my family directly. Pushing myself to try new things without as much struggle for time and space, allowed me to take a pause. A breath. This painting was inspired by a photograph of Marilyn Monroe by Andre de Dienes. I wanted to take that image and push it with color, change shape, own it more. Classic films are a large part of my make up, and I love to turn to it to explore imagery and creativity.
I enjoy combining intentional design with random chance. In “Ordering the Chaos”, I chose the hues and their placement but left the design up to chance. In “D20 Squares”, I planned the design, but left the color placement to chance. I like to use dice as a randomizer and it forces me to paint in a way that I would not ordinarily choose. During the pandemic, so much has felt out of our control. Painting in this way helps me to accept the chaos while still managing some form of control.
I have always been fascinated by objects and the life in them. I was always taking garbage and trying to make it into something useful. This has followed me into my art career. I believe that every object, like people, have a perfect placement to display its beauty. I believe an object can have fate. Art to me is the most incredible thing, the highest ideal of the mind, to connect with each other, by creating something that we can’t always explain, in the most intimate way. I’m honored that you have given me this privilege. The most important thing we can do as humans is to connect and share our stories. If I am going to monopolize some of your time, I’m going to make sure your mind enjoys it!
Flowers were a subject I spent a lot of time studying (in paint) during the early months of the pandemic. Sunflowers al Fresco was painted in my back yard from life using knives. Classic Red was also painted from life with knives, and was part of a “20 flowers in 30 days” challenge in which I participated. Though the lockdown way of life was undesirable and unwelcome, it did provide an opportunity for sustained and regular focus on my painting practice.
My goal for 2020 was to start quilting again; I even took time off in late March for my own personal quilting retreat. Being stuck at home was this quilter’s dream, as I completed a total of seven quilts in 2020: an almost even mix of new and uncompleted projects. “Riverwalk” is my first improvisational quilt. The colors are fluid, like the river; tucking in and out of green spaces. It’s the first quilt I have ever made that made me think of myself as an artist. The Riverwalk is the first place in Batavia my husband took me while we were dating. It has a special place in my heart, as it does for so many people in Batavia.
Chris Hodge has been working on art since a very early age. He works intuitively incorporating various symbols, and thoughts into his artwork. Influenced by such artists as Ivan Albright, Albrecht Durer, and Hieronymus Bosch, his art tells stories in great detail focused on the element of line. His body of work has been described as “obsessive narrative,” articulating his imagination while allowing for the work to take on a life of its own. Starting with sketches and very loose pencil lines, Chris Hodge prefers to render his artwork in ink, due to the high level of commitment that ink requires. Once a line in ink is placed there is no turning back, and if a mistake is made one must find a way to either cover the line, or incorporate it. This allows for his artwork to evolve as he creates it. “I believe the imagination to be a dream-like, fuzzy thing, and it isn’t able to be defined until it is born into some form of creation.” Chris Hodge started his art education at Waubonsee Community College, and continued his studies at North Central College where he received a Bachelor’s in Art Education. Chris Hodge is currently an art teacher in the Midwest. He also holds a Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction, and a Master’s in Educational Leadership & Administration from North Central College.
Throughout the pandemic I had a lot of time to reflect and really think about who I am, what I stood for, and who the world saw me as. In both my works, I feel as if I capture my essence and personality through the color red. The color red has always had significant meaning in my life whether it be from the flag of my birthplace, of my current home, or a school color.
During the pandemic, I have relied on my artwork as a way to connect and share with the people I now see less often. The pieces in this show are examples of work made in a moderate amount of time with affordable, easy-to-ship materials. Sometimes, I surprise people. Sometimes, I take requests on social media. I also like to do small pen and ink works that I can tuck inside a little greeting card and drop them in the mailbox.
My sketches highlight the importance of connecting with nature during the pandemic. The subjects are outdoors and interacting with nature to heal, refresh and restore their minds and bodies. Mother Nature was and still is a powerful constant in our unpredictable world! As an educator for 31 years, I was uprooted physically, mentally and emotionally from my teaching routine and environment. The shift in how and where I taught often left me feeling overwhelmed and sketching was a way to detach and reset myself from the day.