COVID Through the Artist’s Eye

The Canyon ChronicleBy The Canyon Chronicle      January 22, 2021

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COVID Through the Artist’s Eye
Artist/Sculptor Megan Rice, like many of us, adapted as best she could to the COVID -19 lockdown. Faced with unscheduled hours at home, time turned to self-reflection, observation of the bigger picture, and appreciation for the small things she loves. Every week, an artist friend joins Megan outdoors, and they sit, at a distance, wear masks, do art, and laugh. This ritual helps maintain artistic discipline. At year’s end, Megan went through her stack of 2020 drawings and sculptures, and realized some of it was distinctly concerned with COVID, so she wrote down her thoughts about the work, and set them side by side. That is the origin of this exhibit. As we are currently at a distance and lonesome for each other, it’s a good time to share. And as it is so often repeated, “We are all in this together.”
No Brainer
(1. Profile) (2. Frontal view). Ceramic Sculpture, 7"x6"x 6"
At the start of Covid we were slow to wear a mask. We felt safe living in the hills of Topanga and didn’t know anyone who had the virºus. But, in April, a close friend’s grandchild was on a ventilator. That’s when we got masks and began staying home. I started sculpting this head with water-based clay. It seemed only natural to include a mask over the face and give the character a rumpled forehead and frightened eyes. The head is hollow, which prompted me to call it “No Brainer.” Another thing about wearing a mask: it lets me know the degree of my halitosis. It’s another way of protecting others!
Covid Dragon
Pencil & Ink Drawing on paper, 11"x14"
Although this is a new year, it is still one of isolation and possible contagion. Doing art about the pandemic gives me a sense of participation. We are all in the same boat. In May, I sat outside in the shade of a tree. The wind was blowing. I had my sketchbook and a pencil, and I was trying to draw the moving shadows cast by the leaves above me. At first, it just looked like meaningless scribbles, but then I began to see the spotted dragon and the other surreal images. So, I used black ink to make them stand out on the page. The virus shows up in my art even when I’m not thinking about it.
Pundits on MSNBC
Ink drawing on paper, 12" x 16"
In previous decades, my husband and I had no time to watch TV, but this last year, it feels just right to sit back in the recliner and watch endless cycles of Breaking News! If we turn the television off, our anxiety compels us to turn it on again. Where are the new hotspots? What are the scientists saying? How many people have died so far?
This ink drawing doesn’t realistically depict the commentators who appear on cable television networks. They are real people who speak from their own living rooms and kitchens because they’ve been told to stay home, too.
Staying Home
Ink Drawing in Calendar, 11"x18"
The sameness of these months and days; making meals, ordering groceries, overeating, and knowing we are privileged to have food. Then the endless cycle of housework but feeling guilty for having a roof over our heads. Watching black-and-white movies from the 1940’s.
Walking in the neighborhood, playing scrabble, arguing. Going to bed earlier and earlier. Waking up with nightmares of being in crowded places where no one is wearing a mask or social distancing. It feels like my husband and I have morphed into one irritable being.
Buddha Wears a Mask
Ink pen on Paper, 11"x14"
When I try to make family and friends follow safety guidelines they don’t agree with, I’m learning to bow out. Meditation helps me cool off. Years ago, a chiropractor taught me the following exercise: “Lie down and close your eyes. Then imagine that your heart has a nose. Picture that nose breathing in and out. As you continue this visualization, silently repeat the word, “My heart has a nose, etc.” I benefit from it whether I’m wearing a mask or not!
Cat in Goddess Pose
Ceramic Sculpture, 4"x3"x3.5"
This small, clay kitty represents two more of our survival tactics during the pandemic:
Yoga and playing with the cat. Our yogi daughter has provided us with weekly Zoom chair-yoga classes. The stretching and breathing improves our outlook and the Goddess Pose makes us feel we are strong, maybe even noble. This last year, my relationship with our cat has deepened considerably. She is the friend who will listen, and yawn, and invent hilarious games. Her name is Vivimos, which means “We live.” Please everybody, let’s do just that!!
The Canyon Chronicle

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January 22, 2021

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