Artists excel in tough times

The lives of people in Prince George have been impacted on many levels as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on. Thankfully as we move forward, more and more normalcy seems to appear.

Figuring out life with a very serious and sometimes deadly virus dwelling among us is undoubtably stressful. In this time of isolation, when so much has changed and been taken away, perhaps there are also opportunities to do things we have thought about but just never had the time for. Art might fit the bill.

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Using our imagination and getting creative promotes mental health and wellbeing. It is a deeply human exercise in self-expression that enables us to process and reflect upon our thoughts and feelings, both good and bad. In its many forms, whether it is visual, design, sculpture, photography, writing, performing arts and much more, art has the capacity to increase mental and physical endurance, reduce stress and anxiety, and can serve as powerful therapy during times of uncertainty, stress, injustice, protest, chaos and collective pain. Art can heal.

To test my theory about being creative during challenging times, I asked fabulous local potter Karen Heathman, who was recognized with a Healthier You Awardin April 2019 for the development of Healing Arts Kits, about her life during the pandemic. 

“For me, I am still working in my studio. I am still making pots, but quickly filling up my space with no sales. I know that I will need to find new and innovative ways to get my art to my clients.” 

Creativity breeds creative action.

Karen also shared some positives during the pandemic. 

“I am incredibly lucky to be able to work independently in my home and have taught myself for more than 35 years to work on my own. This pandemic is not really a challenge for my artistic expression. I do miss seeing my mom and my kids and having coffee with my friends. Dinners out with my husband are also missed but I remind myself I am in a good place.”

Karen remarks on the laser focus artists often possess that is helpful at a time like this. 

“Artists make the best practitioners of self-isolation. They are used to working long hours by themselves in studios, basements, converted bedrooms, and closets. They are used to going days on end with minimal social contact. They are used to going to the stores once a month, and then only for the necessities, like art supplies. They are used to sacrifice.”

The Community Arts Council of Prince George and District has served artists in our city for more than fifty years and has helped give rise to a robust creative community that offers a multitude of styles and methods to anyone who wants to get involved in the arts. To name a few, we have the Potters’, Fibre Arts, Quilters’, Stitchery, Carvers’ and Woodturners’ Guilds, Artists Co-op, Northern Indigenous Arts Council, Prince George Symphony Orchestra, Judy Russell’s Enchainement Dance Centre, Two Rivers Gallery, Miracle Theatre, PG Folkfest Society, Omineca Arts Centre, Watts Art Academy, Theatre NorthWest, Exploration Place, Federation of Canadian Artists, CFIS Radio, CFUR Radio, Prince George Cantata Singers, White Spruce City Chorus, Bel Canto Choirs, Nove Voce Choral Society, PG Speech Arts & Drama Festival Society, PG Dance and Music Festivals and certainly numerous others as well. During the days of the pandemic many of these organizations have innovated and offer on-line lessons and opportunities to join in. 

Now just might be the perfect time to take that leap. 

Thank you, Karen for your beautiful pottery and many contributions to the arts in our great city.

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