025 / Pandemic Artwork Stories


025 / pandemic artwork stories


Where are you painting from and what have you been doing to keep busy?

I’ve been painting from my in-home art studio during the pandemic. I surround myself with all the pastels I own when I go to my easel, so it feels like I’m climbing into a rainbow cockpit. It truly is my place to escape.

How did you find inspiration from your surroundings for it?

I must admit that early on during the pandemic I would sometimes feel panic stricken, especially at night. There’s something about the nighttime that can bring on feelings of dread in me. One evening while I was feeling cooped up and looking around for inspiration for a painting, I spotted my newly acquired glass ball that was created by an artist friend of mine. It’s an oversized marble that has bits of swirling colored glass inside that look like a galaxy. I started to play with it under a single light source and became fascinated with the depth and sparkling beauty I beheld. It really did look like swirling stars in space, backed by a unique deep pomegranate color. Suddenly my feelings of dread were gone and were replaced by an excitement for trying to render what I was seeing using pastels on paper. Could I pull it off? I had never tried painting colored glass before.  

What is one positive that has come from this experience for you?

This particular project was empowering for me. I contemplated the context for the glass marble before I began my painting. Should I show it suspended in space? Should I place it on its little round wooden stand and depict it that way? No, I decided to include my hand holding the marble. Why? Because playing with a virtual galaxy made me feel a bit more in control during this time in my life, while so many things feel out of control. I wanted to capture that feeling in my painting. Even with ugliness and tragedy unfolding around me, I can still notice glimpses of beauty. I just have to change my perspective a bit and then try to harness that empowering wholeness in my artistic endeavors. It takes more effort, but it gives me hope. 

What is one of your favorite pieces in the collection from a fellow artist?

Jill Stefani Wagner’s painting “Just Before” is a favorite of mine. I am from the Chicago area and have visited Chicago many times. This is a typical street scene in the downtown area and she has captured it beautifully. I think quite frequently about what my life was like “just before” COVID-19. The pandemic changed so much about our everyday lives. What was the last concert or play or large group gathering I attended just before the pandemic started? For me it was seeing the musical, Hamilton, in Chicago. I remember walking down a street similar to this to get to the theater. That event seems so long ago and far away, and yet it takes on a special significance as a sweet memory because it is not happening now. I think a lot of us will mark time in the future by whether something happened just before COVID-19 hit. But hopefully it won’t be long before we can return to such wonderful public events again while feeling safe about our health.

Learn more about Mary Ann's artwork and story