Katherine Nelson: Creativity in a Time of Crisis
How has this pandemic affected you and your creative output? How are you adapting to the new realities?
I found the pandemic to be broadly disruptive initially taking time away from my creative output for the preparations of the lock down. I am a cancer caregiver, wife, mother, and art educator in addition to being a visual artist, so I feel the need to be vigilant about disinfecting everything from the outside. In January I reorganized my studio space to ensure that I have a quiet haven away from outside chaos to create.
My studio provides a sheltering space from life’s literal and figurative storms. Since drawing is a mindful exploration of what is in front of me visually, I focus on the creativity of the moment which is to explore and solve design challenges. Drawing takes my mind off of stressful upheaval. I have a drawing board, taboret, drafting table, shelves, carts, chair, bench, and two walls of windows in a 12’x15’ studio space. I travel by digital safari using my photography research as inspiration for my charcoal drawings that illuminate the new grain revival.
Please share any insights you have learned from this “lockdown/self-isolation”? Also, is there a special role you feel artists can play in response to the pandemic?
As an expat, I’ve persevered through many experiences adapting to new realities, upheaval, and foreign cultures. My advice would be to organize a quiet space, create daily, exercise, plant seeds, appreciate the small things, stay positive, pray, love, and be thankful. Drawing is already a solitary practice to some degree so the isolation is already a bit familiar to me.
Lockdown does not mean there are no open doors. The artists’ special role is to continue to inspire others and contribute to art and culture as all artists are the public record of this time in history. Since our global situation currently demands isolation then my continuing role is enhanced focus on creating boldly with previously unexplored ideas, experimenting in a new medium(s), organizing digital files, and brainstorming new exhibitions.
How do you think this will affect artists, the art world and how people interact with art? How do you feel this crisis might reshape our societies in general?
I think artists will become increasingly independent businesses. Artists are not solely relying on galleries for their income because many galleries are struggling to stay open. The reality now is online sales, exhibitions, art watch parties, virtual studio visits, virtual art lessons, demos, and discussions. We will reshape to appreciate each other more for our unique contributions to society. Families and friends will be more connected. Kindness will be more creatively abundant.
Katherine Nelson was born in 1964 in the Hague, Holland and spent 15 years living abroad in Holland, Germany, Turkey, and most recently in Brussels, Belgium from 2007-2010. Her expatriate assignments instilled in her an appreciation for art, inspirational travel, history, and cultural immersion that continues to influence her work today. She graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Skidmore College in 1985 and earned a Master of Arts in 1990 from SUNY Albany in Drawing. She has lived on both the East and West Coasts of the U.S. and has exhibited her drawings in numerous solo, invitational, and juried exhibitions in the United States and Europe. Her preferred medium is charcoal; “With charcoal I’m able to explore the interplay of light and shadow, softness and edge. I am fascinated by natural form, rhythm, texture, light, and shadow. Every location offers a unique landscape formed by geology, the elements, and human endeavor.”