JOSÉE LAVIGNE // Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When we are faced with a world-wide crisis as we are now faced with, we ask ourselves serious questions.

When the COVID crisis hit Canada and most specifically Montreal Québec, I lost my job as an art educator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The Arts & Culture sectors were some of the most strongly hit by the crisis. Considered to be non-essential to our living in times of a health crisis, I could not help myself but to question this consideration. Are we non-essential in our society? What is Art for?

When you are home-bound, feeling anxious about your health & the health of others, bored out of your mind, creativity comes along and offers you some hope. I kept myself busy as much physically as mentally because or else, I’d simply lose my mind. And so my hands were busy- making rainbows for loved ones, making embroideries on a personal health scare and making illustrations and drawings to forget for a few hours during my day, the crisis. Without Art, I would feel empty, bored, just a body without a soul.

I am an artist and art educator so I know & have known for a while the importance of Art in my life and that of others. Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way but I wonder how many times those who disregard artists and their crafts, have turned to those who are sensitive and creative for a song, a dance, a poem, a photograph, a drawing to lift up their spirits? I simply wish the Arts would be up and running just like some other fields are right now such as Sports and other places like gyms? I am in no way scientific, but I can bet you that you are more likely to be hit by COVID by doing contact sport than by doing an art activity or visiting a museum with an educator.

My work for the collaborative art project What is Art For ? is a small embroidery that was created from an illustration I made earlier this spring entitled ´mon cœur bourgeonne’. It was inspired by the thrill of feeling love in the midst of this crisis. For me, the symbol of the heart in times of a health crisis is very important and mirrors how I feel about the importance of the Arts in our lives. Without artists and their crafts, without the possibility of creating, life would be uneventful, unsatisfactory and impossible. There is too much hatred, too much suffering, anxiety and depression in this world. We need sensitive souls who can lift us up even if it is only for a short while.

Mon cœur bourgeonne puisqu’il est en vie et il ressent l’amour. Sans cœur, sans amour, sans passion, sans créativité, la vie ne serait qu’une série de minutes, d’heures et de journées qui se suivraient sans étincelle, sans magie, sans vie. Voilà l’importance des artistes et de leurs créations. Ils sont essentiels à cette vie.

< Breathing, embodying >