Photo: Barbara Bryn Klare

BARBARA BRYN KLARE // Athens, Ohio, USA

For the first part of the Lockdown, I was in a 590 sq ft condo downtown. I couldn’t create; I couldn’t think. I think I held my breath for a month while we all watched and waited. Sirens, helicopters. Worry. Fear. Empty streets make no sense in a city.

My partner and I made the leap to the small college town where I grew up in the middle of May. The U.S. was tentatively opening up. It was a complete leap (of faith) with all our things. I hadn’t had an art studio for over a year.

So many things were cancelled—a residency, a show, a trip to Europe to see my MA colleagues. But my loved ones were safe and so was I. And one thing wasn’t cancelled: a group show in Linz, Austria, about connection. It became my artistic lifeline. A deadline can rudder you when you are floating in a sea of endless days and nights.

The curator decided my work, ​NATURE + 1, ​which couples natural materials with a manmade guest such as a fabric remnant or thread, was all about Hope. She called them my “little sticks.” I was asked to make 300 of them.

Some of them I became very fond of, like numbers 71 and 184, which made me question my mental health. But who is to say what is healthy anymore? A little crazy seems par now.

This work is about small moments in the everyday: “unexpected intrusions of beauty,” to quote author Saul Bellow. It’s about hope and innocence. It’s about conservation and treading lightly, about being a guest with nature, not a tenant or host. During this time especially, it speaks to safety and security. Wrapping connotes warmth, protection. Binding, a form of tight wrapping, restricts but also quiets motion. Bandages restrict and also heal. For San Francisco Gun Buyback Art for Peace, I wrapped used gun parts to heal and silence hate and violence.

I look forward to a time when we can move freely in our world without fear or worry. All of us.

Stay well, everyone. Please.

Photo: Barbara Bryn Klare

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