Artist Steve Burdick

Interview: Making art in the time of Coronavirus

What’s it like to be an artist during the Pandemic?
Well the biggest difference so far is that I decided not to participate in any PleinAir events this Summer. It’s too bad, really. Dexter hosts a very nice event in August which I’ve enjoyed being a part of. It’s scaled back this year, and out of an abundance of caution, I opted out. I had a subject and location selected for my painting — a lovely old house near downtown Dexter that has intrigued me for a long time. Deciding not to participate this year was hard. I’ll miss the camaraderie of the other artists and seeing my hometown through their eyes.

How have you responded to the Pandemic?
I got to a point where I wanted to do something worthwhile during all this. I’m a retired graphic designer and I love designing posters. I created a 50-year commemorative poster for a historic local event and sold a number of them with the proceeds going to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. That was gratifying.

What are you doing differently?
Rather than painting my selected painting subject for the PleinAir event, I decided to do it in my studio. As the painting was underway, I was able to return to the spot to check and quickly sketch details and lighting that my reference photos missed. It wasn’t quite the same as being on location, but it worked. The finished painting is titled “Good Morning Dexter” (Oil on canvas. 18” x 24”).  I sold a giclée print of this after posting it to my site, and it led to a commissioned work which I’m working on now.

What else has changed?
In a way, the adjustment to staying close to home during this pandemic has not been terribly challenging. When I’m painting in the studio I almost become a hermit anyway. My wife and daughter are reliably constructive critics and they keep me honest. With all this time at home, I’ve found opportunities to revisit previous paintings and I’ve attempted ‘makeovers’ with a mixed level of success. (See attached “First Light” and “Eddy 1 & 2”).

I  must admit that I’m enjoying the sanctuary that my studio offers. It’s good for my soul to get away from the daily stream of breaking news.  But, I miss going to exhibits, talking in person with other artists, comparing notes, etc. That was my reason for joining AAWA  earlier this year. When this is over, I don’t think I’ll take that for granted.

If you would like to share your ‘Art making in a time of Coronavirus’ experience with us, please get in touch!

OUR CHANGEOVER to Huron River Art Collective has officially happened. The technicalities can take a little time – but we’re working on it! For now, you may see posts, email and messages under either name. Thank you for your patience! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook (public Page and private Group for Members), and Instagram. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Racial Dialogues Through Art

Reflections on the issues of our time….

Clicking on any image will enlarge it and begin a slideshow. When your cursor is on the enlarged image, you can scroll down to read a statement shared by the artist. Enjoy this Online Exhibit!

Systemic Racism and Recent Violence – A Statement from the Board

We stand in solidarity with those who demand change in the fight against the systemic racism that has been perpetrated against people of color throughout the history of this nation. We will not remain silent while people of color suffer disproportionately and brutally at the hands of our prejudiced criminal justice system. We too must take responsibility for the part we have played within this system of oppression. Systemic racism, which has permeated every aspect of life for people of color, will not end until the intentional and long-standing inequity in housing, healthcare, education, economic and political power is rectified. The daily violence against people who are black and the resulting widespread protests against this violence has created a palpable sense of urgency in this work.

One year ago, we, as an organization, began to focus on creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization across leadership and membership. We began by participating in a program offered through Nonprofit Enterprise at Work called Champions for Change. The Champions for Change program works to build capacity for racial equity leadership in Washtenaw County. As a result, we are now making fundamental changes to our organization. In this work, we found that our name, Ann Arbor Women Artists, is a barrier not only to diversifying our membership but also in collaboratively working with other nonprofits. We are in the process of changing our name and have rewritten our values to emphasize these goals. 

We are creating proactive policies to engage with local nonprofits and communities to increase diversity within our membership and developing new programs such as a mentorship program to assure we are meeting the needs of all our members in an equitable manner. This is a beginning – we have much to learn and more to do.

We, as a nonprofit, have a responsibility to and are working to assure all members feel welcome, heard, and supported. We have created new opportunities to bring members together to form new friendships, to share perspectives, and to start new collaborations.

We are committed to assuring our values – diversity, equity and inclusion – permeate every aspect of our work. They will be kept at the forefront in our teaching, learning, creating, innovating and collaborating in the fight against systemic racism.

Our Values

Personal honesty, integrity and respect in our work as a board, membership, and community members

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in leadership, membership, and community engagement

Passion for teaching, learning, creativity, innovation, and sharing

Collaborative community approach connecting members and collaborating