When Things Fall Apart

Back in the Before Times, we had a whole calendar of events and classes set up thru June. Show calls were written! People were working on class curricula! Everyone at TAH was getting excited for what we were gonna call “Treasure From Trash” weekend: a weekend-long event with workshops and space for upcycling your recycling into art. It was gonna be huge! 

But then, as they do, things fell apart. When the tide turned and we had to start taking the pandemic seriously, (about a week ahead of Washington state), I made an executive decision to start cancelling things, and closing our gallery to the public for the time being. The events committee met virtually decided “hey, if nothing else, we’ll be more accessible” and we got to work on figuring out how to host classes and show off our community to people unable to make it into the studio for whatever reason. This project is still in process.

But something else happened, that has been a problem for a lot of people in the arts, not just at TAH. We, each in our own way, began grieving over what has occurred and what caused it. Sometimes grief means it’s hard to make things, or get your thoughts together, or even motivate yourself to do things in your normal routine. The world has been upended, and those who didn’t metaphorically fall off, have at least fallen down; even as many of us were down to start with. 

Everyone grieves differently. A lot of us “creative types” (and incidentally, I think EVERYONE is the creative type regardless of skill or ability), turn to new art projects in times of trouble. For a lot of us, art is what we do to accommodate our own existence. It’s medicine, it’s pleasure, it’s habit to be creative. But in a crisis, creative pursuit is sometimes disrupted by the fact that there is a crisis.

Some people get inspired to make a lot of art because if they stop being productive their ability to cope will evaporate so they will fall apart and may not be able to get their pieces back together. You want to create, and you feel like you’ll be ok as long as you just keep painting fish. (The fish part might just be me.)

Other folx are having a hard time even focusing long enough to think about creative pursuits because they’re in survival mode. Whether that’s emotionally, or because they need medical care they aren’t getting, or  because there are more pressing matters like housing and food; for a lot of people it’s a combination of these and many other factors. You want to create, but the world is in the way.

For some of y’all out there, it’s both. You’re both exhausted from surviving AND compelled to make work. It may be concurrent or alternating. You want to create so you start, but then the world gets in the way and you’re stuck.

I don’t doubt there are a myriad of other experiences, these are just the one’s I’m noticing in my peers who have been able to share. Rather than extensively categorize trauma responses, I want to validate yours and let you know however you’re processing the ongoing global catastrophe is ok (with the obvious exception that it’s not ok to take your fears and stress out on other people).

Things get disrupted.

Things get messed up.

Things fall apart.

Hopefully life goes on and there’s another time to try to get it right. Sometimes there isn’t and you have to think of how to keep going when it seems like everything is lost. But if we can keep going, stay alive just one more day, that’s one more day to make art.

Tidal Artist Haven is gonna keep going. We’re survivors, we adapt, we course-correct, and we stick together. After a period of adjustment, we’ll be able to bring you classes and workshops, and art shows, and artist interviews, and stuff you can enjoy even if you can’t come into the gallery. Even if members and staff can’t go into the gallery. 

We started TAH not knowing what we were getting into, and we are mostly rolling along doing our best, learning as we go. It’s a process, and whatever happens we adapt. We use art to accommodate reality.

Keep doing your best everyone. Be on the look-out for more content from TAH, and eventually we’ll all be able to go out in public again.

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