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  • Writer's pictureJulie Miller

Art in the time of plague

These have been some rough months for this globe of ours, and here in the US we can't seem to get this plague into any kind of manageable numbers. Without being political I will just say, listen to the experts, medical people, scientists etc... WEAR A MASK at all times when out of your home. It only works if we all do it and it's easy and it's the right thing to do for all of us. Yes it's summer and yep, it's hot (in some places) but if you want to keep yourself safe as well as people you may encounter, just do it. The more we all do it, the quicker we can maybe get our lives back to some form of normal.

I don't know about you, but I've found it really hard to create with the constant barrage of bad news. I find my mojo is really at an all time low. Have really been staying inside as I have one kidney (donated one), have some autoimmune issues, and have mild asthma. The funny thing is I tend to really be a homebody (introvert) anyway. Even before this plague I would stay in the house for a week or two without leaving for any reason. So, I think this has been easier for me than for some who get stir crazy if they aren't out and about a couple times a day. Even so I find myself not wanting to do anything at all.

With all that though, I have found the inspiration to create some new pieces. This one has a weird story. I wanted to do a dark, plague doctor raven painting since last September. My husband and I visited the Philadelphia Art Museum where we saw a woodcut exhibit. There were pieces from medieval times to present day, but one really struck me. It was a simple set of two prints with an "X" and a few letters which I came to find out were "Pest" for "plague." The bacteria has causing plague has since been called Yursinia pestis. They were plague quarantine signs from 1683 Germany which were placed on the doors of houses where someone had the plague. They were so stark and simple I knew I had to use the imagery in a new piece. This was back in late February just as things were really getting scary in China.

I came home and created this piece and it's frame. It's the control freak in me, but I find I need to make the frame for my paintings now. I want to control what the finished piece looks like. And I've always been drawn to those heavy dark medieval and northern renaissance and Dutch masters frames. I get the raw molding and create these frames from scratch, adding ornamentation, finishing them, gilding parts then aging them so they look the part.

Here's to hoping you are all ok, surviving, staying healthy. We will all get through this if we play it safe. Stay in when we can and wear masks religiously when we must go out. All the best,


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