In hard times, art becomes a solace for many, turning toward it for expression, self-reflection and healing. With that in mind, we wanted to know how local DMV artists are dealing with the pandemic, both from a professional and personal level.
Here, we chatted with pop-impressionist artist Maggie O’Neill about how she’s been spending her time during COVID-19, what she’s been reflecting on and how her businesses have shifted. See highlights from our conversation below.
How has your day-to-day routine changed during the stay-at-home order?
I split my day working from home and my studio at The Wharf. I feel very lucky to have the studio space as a place to work. This is highly unusual as I was never home before COVID-19 and only in the studio on Wednesdays and weekends. I used to be in the design offices, site visits, meetings and events in person.
What do you look forward to on a daily basis right now? What little things are bringing you joy?
I look forward to a good walk, a good dance break, painting and conversations with my colleagues, clients and friends who are “thinkers,” innovators and creative problem solvers. These conversations keep me inspired and hopeful about how we will adapt and improve.
What have you been doing to keep yourself entertained during the stay-at-home order?
I have been busy helping where I can and working. I feel like I’m just as busy as I was before, which I’m incredibly thankful for. It is a different type of busy. I am painting more, working on new collaborations, dancing, listening to TED Talks and walking to the monuments.
How has your business changed through all of this as well?
My design business [SWATCHROOM] focused on hospitality, so we are slowed but not halted. It is devastating to have to let people go that you care about for no other reason but this virus and its devastating impact. We are thinking more carefully about the way we want to design and impact our community. This has shifted our focus.
How are you maintaining a work-life balance as you work from home and during a pandemic?
I am trying to talk to friends and family regularly. I try to maintain weekends for myself and try to practice acts of self-care three times a week.
As an artist, what have you seen during this pandemic that has inspired you? Saddened you? How do you think this situation will affect your art projects in the future?
I feel the impact of trauma personally and it is hard to not feel empathy as a neighbor, friend and professional. Sickness, death, unemployment and isolation are all tough things to witness. As an artist I am inspired to use art as a way to heal, invigorate and perhaps shine a different perspective on opportunities to make lemonade. We have a chance to rewrite how business is done and what our collective priorities are.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Art is important to your well-being, your ability to express yourself and heal. I strongly recommend finding a creative outlet and letting it become therapy. I also think it’s important to not be so hard on ourselves or each other.
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