Pandemic Inspires Art

It has been observed that, throughout history, pandemics have inspired creative minds — to write plays, to postulate new scientific theories, to create works of art.

Lisa Walcott

That last undertaking — to create works of art — naturally emanated from Lisa Walcott, assistant professor of art, during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. Now, a sculptural installation by Walcott, located at The Centennial Inn of Holland, displays her inspiration from and reflection on the spread of the novel coronavirus and the isolation that it has caused.

“As a visual artist, I process and articulate through making. I wanted to allow myself the time to feel this moment and be in my space as I reflected on proximity, space between, and interdependence,” said Walcott. “The disrupted version of life in quarantine has been very difficult and also very beautiful as we slow down and understand what is essential. . . This work could not be made in another time and space and mean the same thing.”

Titled “Given Situation,” the installation features eight large, mechanized mobiles that mimic the motion of bugs swarming.  Walcott, who specializes in kinetic installations, developed it during the state-wide “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order that was into effect from late March to early June.

The venue was a location where Walcott could work when the college went to remote operations. She and her husband, Rob Walcott, have owned and operated the inn since the couple purchased it at the beginning of the year. Rob hopes that the inn can be developed into a place that supports art, culture and local dialogue.

“I have been thinking a lot about independence and interdependence, and I wanted to offer something to those around me — my neighbors and community,” said Walcott. “’Given Situation’ is for solitary viewing and follows guidelines for social distancing — no touching surfaces and masks worn inside.”

As Walcott explains in the artist’s statement that accompanies the installation, “‘Given Situation’ references the highly coordinated manner in which a colony can move.  The motion of each ‘fly’ is connected to those around them creating a visual manifestation of interdependence. Group coordination can be quite simple yet extremely effective toward solving complex problems (like an ant finding the shortest distance to food and others following that trail). At the same time, the presence of bugs can indicate deterioration and change. The ‘flies’ are coated in black wax melted from birthday candles which references celebration as well as the passing of time.”

She notes that the viewers become a part of the experience as they move through the piece.  “Perception is heightened as the web like ‘swarms’ seem to materialize and disappear,” she said.  “Visitors’ presence both activates and threatens to disrupt the installation.”

Located in the inn’s market building, “Given Situation” has open viewing hours on Saturdays and Sundays from 4-9pm or by appointment until June 26. The Centennial Inn is located at 8 E. 12th St.

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