Art: An Escape from Pandemic Uncertainty

By Meg Walburn Viviano

What’s one hobby you’ve picked up since the pandemic began? I saw this question asked of a national audience and the answers ran the gamut from jogging to jigsaw puzzles. But for one-third of Americans recently polled by a culture website, the answer is art. 

Painting or drawing, coloring books, even paint-by-numbers are among the projects people are embracing as the threat of COVID-19 keeps us closer to home. Why? Diving into artistic pursuits can give the artist (no matter the skill level) the satisfaction of a finished product. In an era when many of us go for weeks at a time without wearing “real pants” (who will see my sweats anyway?), a completed artwork is visual proof we have accomplished something. 

The immersive experience of creating art can also provide an escape. An unattributed quote turns up frequently in art therapy circles: “Art is you being free from all the world’s heaviness.” The American Art Therapy Association notes, “Engaging in repetitive, rhythmic acts inherent in art making…create opportunities to calm the body and the mind, strengthen self-soothing, mindfulness, and strategies for coping with these times of high anxiety, stress, and uncertainty.” 

Besides, art is just plain fun. At home with two preschoolers, art projects have carried me through many a day in quarantine. I’ll admit, I was reluctant to take on the messiest arts and crafts at first. To a control freak like me, finger paint in the hands of a 2-year-old is a terrifying thought. But my boys responded to these activities with so much engagement and delight, I threw caution to the wind (and an old shower curtain on the floor). By May, we had created masterpieces by dragging toy trucks through paint, making heart-shaped “stamps” out of toilet paper tubes, and even blowing bubbles tinted with food coloring onto paper. 

Art’s ability to lighten our spirits is evident in this issue of CBM Bay Weekly. We see a beloved county park honored with a special anniversary poster, made more special because of the artist’s personal connection to the park. We also celebrate 30 years of an Annapolis tradition: ArtWalk, which takes guests on a unique gallery-hopping tour. We look forward to seeing (in person!) the works that local artists have been inspired to create during these long months, while the rest of us have been coloring by numbers and finger painting our stress away. There will, of course, be adjustments to the event this year to allow for safe distancing. 

And speaking of events with adjustments, CBM got a chance to go behind the scenes at last weekend’s Crabs To-Go drive-thru crab feast put on by the Rotary Club of Annapolis. You won’t believe how many crabs they managed to steam, pack and load, all right onsite at Navy Stadium. As we continue to celebrate all things crabby (does a day go by that Bay country doesn’t celebrate crabs?) we’re delighted to see more folks catching on to Bay Weekly’s secondary purpose as crab paper. Keep posting and sending those crab-pickin’ pics with the hashtag #BayWeeklyGetsCrabby! Just please be sure to read the paper before you dump the bushel basket onto it.