JOSÉE LAVIGNE // Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When the pandemic hit Canada and most specifically Montreal, Quebec, in March 2020, I lost my job as an art educator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The Arts and 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 and unsure about your future, creativity comes along and offers you some hope. I kept myself busy as much physically as mentally because or else, I’d simply lose it. And so my head and hands were busy- making embroideries or small crafts for loved ones, making illustrations and drawings to forget for a few hours during my day, the crisis. Without Art, I would feel empty, lost, 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 every one 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 Creators and their crafts would not be taken for granted, especially in times like these when we need Beauty, sensitivity and Culture to enrich our lives.

My work for the collaborative art project What is art for? is a small embroidery that was created from an illustration I made in Spring 2020 entitled ´mon cœur bourgeonne’. It was inspired by the thrill of feeling love- or rather passion 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 and make us reflect.

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.

< Breathing, embodying >