Creativity in Socially Distant Times

By: Amy Beck, marketing and communications manager on April 15th, 2020

Throughout our collective social-distancing to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, creative expression is providing much-needed release and soothing diversion.

With so many turning to online-only interaction – working, studying, keeping updated, and contacting others remotely – time away from online devices can offer a welcome break. For anyone determined to transform isolation into productive solitude, this may be the time to try something new, revisit an earlier interest, refine skills, or experiment in a new way.

At the Safer-at-Home order’s outset, I was reminded of a time twenty-four years ago when pregnancy complications required bed rest to avoid premature delivery of our daughter, Sarah Kate. Even though I complied – diverting a lengthy to-do list into the future – inwardly, I balked. Big time.

It took awhile, but eventually the frustration subsided once I flipped my thinking. Instead of listing all that couldn’t be done, it helped to focus on what suddenly became possible that previously was impossible. I read a few classics – although perhaps Dante’s Inferno wasn’t the wisest choice – and resumed a half-finished cross-stitch project so that I’d have a tangible way to see progress.

During recent weekends I resumed playing our piano, in need of tuning after years of being little more than a dust catcher.

Our son-in-law recently took up pyrography while on hiatus from teaching private golf lessons in the Twin Cities. Matt fondly recalled first giving it a go at the Woodson Art Museum years ago, while he and Sarah Kate were in high school.

Woodson Art Museum member Jeff Eaton first began filming, editing, and publishing videos years ago on his YouTube channel, Random Button Pusher, as a way to share a creative activity while caring for his wife, Mary, during her life’s final days. By filming outdoors, he brought a bit of outdoor beauty indoors, as his gift to her.

Jeff Eaton in 2016 Birds in Art galleries

Jeff has continued his video projects throughout the years since that bittersweet time. He’s completed virtual-view videos for nearly every changing Woodson Art Museum exhibition since 2016 – nineteen in all and counting.

True to form, Jeff, recently came through once again. On the day before Governor Evers’ Safer-at-Home order went into effect last month, Jeff drove from Rhinelander for his photo shoot in the galleries, devoid of visitors yet filled with French posters and artwork by children’s book illustrator Melissa Sweet.

Jeff is devoting volunteer hours, yet again, to create virtual video views – especially appreciated now, since visitors cannot yet walk through the Museum doors to experience L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters and Some Illustrator! Pictures by Melissa Sweet.

See his video, highlighting Melissa Sweet illustrations from the children’s book Brave Girl. Also, Jeff’s video, the Feminine Gaze, focuses on faces in the L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters exhibition. As Jeff writes, “where – and how – each is directing her gaze matters.”

Enjoy Jeff’s virtual views and eagerly anticipate a time when we can once again gather in the galleries. Until then, Museum staff extend warm wishes for wellness and invite you to remain engaged.

Continue to explore online options on the Woodson Art Museum website – including activities for all ages via the Museum’s Activity Guides, Collection search, Audio Tours page, YouTube channel, education resources, pre-visit materials for the French posters and Melissa Sweet exhibitions, and the current exhibitions and past exhibitions webpages. Also, we invite you to share via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter our social media posts, offering these and other online sources of creative diversion and inspiration  – throughout this stay-at-home time and beyond.

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