Periodically, we pose questions about issues artists face in their work and lives.
About a year ago, we asked artists how the pandemic had impacted their art. For good or ill, COVID-19 forced many artists to reimagine their creative practice.
Now, as the pandemic starts to ebb and society begins to reopen, we asked, What possibilities do you see for your art?
Katrina Goldsaito, author and multidisciplinary artist, co-creator of ReachYou
Today on this flash thunderstorm day in Massachusetts, it strikes me that one role of art is to create worlds that exist outside of the comforting lull of “normal.” Artists are the ones running out into the rain to gaze up at the lightning, wondering how it forks through the sky with such clarity, translating the storm into art.
ReachYou began in 2019, and the project presents a future where Earth no longer supports human life. Participants receive a message transmitted in Augmented Reality from a future human who tells us that they must preserve and record the mundane and tremendous beauties from their time on earth and send them to the future.
Before the pandemic this felt like a sci-fi leap.
During the pandemic, ReachYou felt like a possible future. Aware of our own fragility, it was easy to imagine that our world would end, and ReachYou offered space to contemplate our griefs and gratitudes in this, The Great Unwinding.
Now, in this reopening of society here in the United States, I fear our perspective will shift back. That we’ll abandon the forks of lightning for closed curtains in the air-conditioned cool.
Our challenge now in ReachYou is to figure out how to encourage participants to get soaked in the rain and remain resistant to “normal.”
Magda Romanska, playwright
Pandemic is having a significant impact on my profession, theatre. The closures of performance venues has been devastating to many theatre artists and smaller institutions. It will take years for some of the local theatre ecosystems to recover. At the same time, the circumstances – not being able to do traditional in-person, live performance – forced the theatre artists to innovate, creating live and interactive online shows using a variety of technologies and formats, including teleconferencing, video games, VR, AR, haptic technologies, social media, and phones. Pandemic drove an incredible outpouring of creativity and cutting edge, intermedial and transmedial experiments. A new artistic form emerged, sometimes called a digital theatre, sometimes transmedia theatre or cyber theatre – a blend of theatre, film, video game and teleconferencing. For many disabled theatre artists and audiences, pandemic also meant a greater access to the art form, whether through streaming of old or new shows, or online rehearsal and performance models. Such was the case for me. This year alone, I was able to participate in the writing workshop at the Lark Theatre, theatre festival at the Roundabout Theatre, and staging of a small show at the Speakeasy Theatre, something not possible if not for the pandemic.
Lino Tanaka, musician and actor
I am extremely excited that things are starting to go back to normal. Symphonies are slowly resuming their programming and are now planning future concerts. It is very inspiring to hear from friends and colleagues how thrilled they are about the possibility of going back to work on stage and to play live concerts.
Besides music I also work in the movie industry. COVID affected both. However, while the music industry mostly languished, the movie industry did not. During the pandemic it became even more evident how efficient and adaptable the movie industry is. After stopping for just a few months, they instituted standardized safety protocols and quickly resumed operations. In doing so, they provided at least some work for actors and crew during the height of the pandemic. That offered us all hope and assurance that better times were soon to come. This experience has had a tremendous impact on me, causing me to rethink my decision on which industry I should focus my attention.
I was able to stand as an artist during the pandemic thanks to the many institutions in the New England area such as the Mass Cultural Council that provided grants to artists in such difficult times. That makes me believe this is a very supportive state for the arts, as well as its artists, which is very encouraging, and makes me feel that I can continue thriving here.
Kara Patrowicz, visual artist
In some ways normalcy has resumed in my studio practice, with the return of studio access, childcare options and the reopening of local museums and galleries. I’m still processing the challenges and anxieties wrought by the pandemic — negotiating my schedule between art-making and parenting was particularly difficult this past year. But this brought some changes in my work that proved to be silver linings, and which I expect to carry forward. Time limitations led me to explore fiber media that allow working in a faster, more gestural manner. The confinement of the shutdown was a reminder of the significance of the “home,” and inspired a new body of work that renewed my commitment to domestic and familial imagery, as well as a new series of masked self-portraits. And the isolation of the pandemic helped me to recognize a need for more artistic community, which has motivated me to undertake an Artist Residency in Motherhood. ARiM is a self-directed, open-source artist residency to empower and inspire artists who are also mothers. It comes with an international online community and I’m thrilled to explore this opportunity this fall.
How has the pandemic impacted your creative practice?
How do you approach art-making during times of emotional distress?
Katrina Goldsaito (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Finalist ’21) is the author of the award-winning The Sound of Silence. She and Jonah Goldsaito are the co-creators of ReachYou, an interactive space odyssey in AR (supported by The Boston Foundation, The City of Boston, and the Mass Cultural Council).
Kara Patrowicz (Crafts Finalist ’21) is a visual artist exploring the intersection of fibers, painting and drawing. Her solo exhibition Homebound is on view at the Fruitlands Museum Wayside Community Gallery through Aug 22, 2021, and she has work in the Small Works Project at Gallery 263 (through May 2022) and the 85th Regional Exhibition of Art & Craft at Fitchburg Art Museum (through September 5, 2021).
Magda Romanska (Dramatic Writing Finalist ’21) is an award-winning writer, dramaturg, and theatre and performance theorist. She is the Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief of TheTheatreTimes.com and teaches at Emerson College. She recently published the article Runt of the Litter, about disability and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lino Tanaka is a violinist and actor originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil. As a musician, he has performed with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Cape Symphony Orchestra, and South Florida Symphony. As an actor, he has appeared in numerous feature films, commercials, and television shows, including a recent appearance in High Maintenance.
Images: from REACHYOU, an interactive Augmented Reality project by Katrina and Jonah Goldsaito (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Finalists ’21); Kara Patrowicz (Crafts Finalist ’21), WORK IN PROGRESS (2020), needle felting, watercolor on vintage fabric, 22×22 in, photo by Will Howcroft.
Kara Patrowicz’s piece is so beautiful!