The COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020 took the ordinary lives of Americans and turned them upside down. The March stay-at-home orders brought a sudden halt to almost everything. Businesses, restaurants, movie theaters, shops, hair salons and most other establishments were closed. People who were used to working, socializing and conducting busy lives were suddenly forced to stay home.
Most did not know what to do with themselves. They binged on television, food and social media. Some worried about their lives, the economy and getting sick. Some enjoyed the chance to rest and spend time with their children, spouses and families. There were a few, however, who seized the opportunity to reach within themselves and use their talents to create artwork. These artists were able to use their emotions, worries, thoughts and time to create pieces of beautiful artwork for the rest of us to enjoy.
Union Museum of Art and History is showcasing three local artists who did just that. The exhibit is titled Art in the Time of Coronavirus and shows the work of artists who created these pieces exclusively during the 2020 Pandemic.
Bob Ward is a practicing and exhibiting artist who specializes in acrylic on canvas painting.
He holds an MFA in painting from Louisiana Tech University, an MA in painting from the University of Iowa and a BFA in fine arts from Illinois Wesleyan University. Ward has served on the Union Arts Council board of directors for nine years and guided all its art shows.
His official home is on the Downsville side of Lake D’Arbonne but he currently lives in a nursing home in Ruston. “When the Covid-19 pandemic altered normal operations at the Arbor, I felt that I could make the best of an unfortunate situation by creating a series of paintings,” said Ward. “I painted in my air conditioned apartment employing an electric Lazy Boy chair and a short table ‘easel’ under only four 60-watt bulbs.” Ward’s works were executed with Golden Artists’ Color Acrylic paints and range in size from 11 x 14 to 20 x 24. “And so, 2020 gives way to a new year, culminating with an exhibition of my C-one, two, three, et al paintings at the Union Museum of History and Art. After this, I could take a nap but more likely, I’ll embark on a new painting series,” said Ward.
Nicole Ramsey is a self-taught artist who took up brush and acrylics less than two years ago. Ramsey is a kinesiology student at South Arkansas Community College and begins physical therapy training in May. Ramsey’s talent was noted from the outset as one of her earliest paintings took first place and People’s Choice honors in the Union Arts Council 2019 art competition. Her unconventional outlook and eye for color produces what she terms her “impressionistic” style.
The eye is immediately drawn to the richness of color in her paintings. When the pandemic confined Ramsey to her Farmerville home, she used that time to produce a wide assortment of paintings. “I had lots of free time to create since I couldn’t go and do as usual,” said Ramsey. Her love of horses and nature is apparent in her work but she also used this time to develop her talent for painting other subjects. “During these trying times, I feel everyone has found a new hobby or vice to help get by. I have matured my palate for wine, while my husband studied the history and process of making fine whiskies. This is my inspiration for my ‘Pick Your Poison’ series,” said Ramsey.
Barbara Sisk learned at a very young age from her grandmother, who was an oil painter, to enjoy creating art. Since that time, Barbara has developed her skills many different media including ceramics, china painting, crocheting and quilting. Sisk has won several awards including Best of Show in the 2016 Union Arts Council competition. Sisk is inspired by her passion for creating artworks and her restless drive to stay busy. She has raised four children, drove a bus for Union Parish Schools for 42 years, was a reserve deputy sheriff and worked at the Union Parish Detention Center. She and her husband live in Farmerville. During the pandemic of 2020 she felt a need to be creative while confined.
Jean Jones, Exhibits and Program Director for the Union Museum of Art and History is so pleased that the museum can offer such an amazing exhibit with such talented Union Parish artists. “We are finding that so many people have been looking for something to do. Either that or go mad,” laughs Jones. “These three individuals found their outlet in art. The pandemic gave them freedom from everyday busyness to slow down enough to create. We are so happy to be able to show their work and hopefully inspire others to create something of their own and to pursue their passion whatever that may be,” said Jones.
The Art in the Time of Coronavirus exhibit can be viewed January 19-28 at the Union Museum of Art and History.