Elly on the Arts: Finding art and beauty in quarantine

The COVID-19 quarantine has forced a lot of changes in our little world. Six weeks ago, we began to discuss how Flin Flon and the area could utilize some of the changes we seemed to be facing, to improve our economic diversification through the arts and culture. This is a topic we have long touted as a way forward but… though it seemed like a good idea, we are slowly realizing that the world as we know it may never be quite the same.

Large gatherings may not be allowed again until at least this fall. This will affect the cities more than smaller towns, but it will affect us, no doubt. What will happen to hockey games? Will we be allowed to gather for our children’s dance recitals? Will teams or dance classes even be allowed to gather to practice? Will tourism, which is the key to advancing many northern economies, ever pick up again?

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There are no answers, right now but even though we have to shelve our series of planned articles, the artists of the Flin Flon region are beginning to lead the way through this trying time. The Northern Visual Arts Centre (NorVA) is closed due to COVID-19 but they have initiated a project called the Quarantine Gallery which invites local artists to post their work on-line. If you want to see it, simply enter like and follow the NorVA Facebook page for an incredible visual treat. Photographer Brandy Bloxom, sketch artist Rosimeire Anjos, painter Megan Dupas and ceramicist Shelly Rudd have all posted pics of beautiful new work.

Karen Clark and Noelle Drimmie have received a small Manitoba Arts Council grant to produce a virtual art show of responses to COVID-19-related work. Both of these artists are associated with NorVA but this grant is independent of that relationship. They are looking for art pieces that reflect your “lived experience” with the pandemic. The artists will curate 19 works that will be professionally photographed and rendered in poster format that can be displayed in store fronts on Main Street, at the gallery and at Johnny’s. Artists finding new ways to inject beauty into a world that has become quiet and sad - bless them.

In conversation with Clark, she discussed helping artists to find their promotional voices during this time. All artists work in isolation to some extent, so the creation process never really stops. Painters stil paint, writers still write, songwriters too. Artists seem to need to create. Many of them, however, do not promote themselves very well at all. Clark suggested that they could begin that process by making a Manitoba Arts Council profile that would enable them to apply for small grants. Doing so would immediately boost their profiles with the largest-arts granting agency in the province, opening them up to ongoing support.

Both NorVA Gallery and the Flin Flon Arts Council are maintaining their on-line presence during this COVID quarantine so simple emails would generate a response and assistance for artists that need it. The town would be grateful too, as they could sit back and enjoy all of the wonderful output from our artists during this challenging time.

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