Community Artist, Founder of Made in Isolation
"I believe that the act of making—of being creative—helps keep our souls intact."
What are you currently working on?
I'm working a still life series that incorporates staple goods and other items that people are likely hoarding or using while at home. Not the most original idea but it fills the time. I'm interested in the ordinary--the nature of things.
Has your art making shifted in response to the pandemic? How?
I'm trained as a photographer and community artist, and I work full-time as a writer and editor for a humanitarian aid organization. Simply having this time at home and to myself has sparked a creative renewal. For just over 10 years, I documented local makers at Baltimore by Hand, which I considered my contribution to community art. The idea for Made in Isolation is very much rooted in my experience with Baltimore by Hand--which was essentially a storytelling platform.
A few days after our office closed, I found I had time on my hands to reflect and do something. That feeling of groundlessness. I could either avoid it or befriend it. And make something. So, while this site is a lot like the work I've done in the past, it feels more urgent. It has brought me a sense of purpose and eased my anxiety. I'm hoping that everyone who participates gains something similar.
What is the role that art can play in helping us confront our new reality?
Experience has taught me that making of any kind--be it traditional craft, fine art, DIY, high-end or street-level--has the capacity to calm and connect us and make us feel useful, especially when we are disappointed, frightened or just plain baffled. I believe that the act of making--of being creative--helps keep our souls intact. It's a way to make sense of the strangeness of being alive. I'm going to borrow from photographer Robert Adams. Decades ago, while documenting the damage being done to the American West, he wrote, “The goal is to face facts but to find a basis for hope. To try for alchemy.” I think--I hope--that's what we're doing here.
Christy Zuccarini lives in Baltimore.