The pandemic hit while I was attending to a family medical emergency in California. I had been there for months and was not able to head back to Maine until the end of April. My husband and I had been isolating with the California family for six weeks when we made the cross-country leap. Terrified of the travel, we were exhausted and desperate to finally be home.
Quarantine for 14 days in our comfort zone seemed a luxury.
Joyful at the opportunity to be in my studio, safe, healthy and surrounded by loved ones, I have been overwhelmed with gratitude at my good fortune.
As a news junky, every day I absorb the shock of COVID-19’s impact on the world. Uncertainty, anxiety, fear, anger and heartbreak roll in waves through the media and personal stories, creating a strange emotional rollercoaster.
The stark contrasting realities of my privileged life in isolation versus the trauma of daily life for so many can be immobilizing.
My first step towards balance is to acknowledge the privilege of my life. I have much to be grateful for, and many people who personify the qualities that inspire and energize me.
My gratitude project emerged as a process of celebrating and thanking people for their gifts by making a small mailable piece for an individual and writing a note that tells them why I am grateful to them. As I proceed, I am finding gratitude to be a good antidote for virus-related fallout. It helps to create the spiritual/emotional space for positive action.
As we move beyond the virus, the fragility of our systems, the house of cards we call our democracy, economy, and social network has been exposed to the world, requiring the work and attention of us all. I hope to move forward with clear eyes and gratitude to support me.
A selection from my COVID-19 series of ten paintings. They represent my artistic tale in abstract formulation with figurative emphasis: our current time in space.
I have included Polar Dispatch to show what I had recently completed when the pandemic arrived full bore.
On a personal level, my husband and I were coping with his diminishing heart function and urgent need for a cardiac procedure to be performed by a specialist in Cleveland, when the pandemic’s arrival complicated an already challenging situation. We were on hold indefinitely until an appointment for surgery opened. An imminent car trip to Cleveland loomed, and the logistics of navigating a safe journey through COVID land and back made concentration on studio work nearly impossible. With effort I forced myself daily to stand in front of my easel, at least for abbreviated periods.
Collapse was underway yet incomplete, and ultimately evolved from an otherworldly polar exploration in its tenor and intent to an ominous image that threatened to consume. I therefore halted work on it. My husband’s cardiac health continued to decline, when in early April an appointment opened and we hit the road to the Cleveland Cardiac Clinic.
Walking the Edge I began after the Cleveland trip, while still in the midst of the pandemic. My ability to focus was more sustained. My husband’s surgery was a complete success. The image still reflects the fragility of our misguided world.
Image at top: Nora Tryon, Mask Gratitude, mixed media on paper, 7 x 5 in., 2020.