Breaking Boundaries with The COVID Art Museum
Words by Odessa Rebaya
In an unexpected way, the pandemic has given birth to the COVID Art Museum—a new artistic movement that showcases talented creators from all around the globe. From abstract self-portraits to hyperrealistic paintings of toilet paper, the COVID Art Museum proves that, once and for all, there can never be a lockdown on creativity.
With more time to reflect during quarantine, three Spanish artists have initiated a global movement that encourages a fresh take on individual responses to the pandemic. This collection can be found on Instagram (@covidartmuseum), and is recognized as “the world’s first museum for art born during COVID-19 quarantine." This platform encourages creatives to capture modern life at the crux of a global health crisis by submitting their artistic work. With one spark of creativity igniting another, the COVID Art Museum page quickly gained mass attention from art enthusiasts and those seeking inspiration during isolation. The page now has a tremendous following standing at 118,000 as of June 2020. By the looks of it, its growth doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
The artists that created the museum remarked that the extra time they had during the pandemic gave them the best creative brainstorming they’ve ever had in their professional careers. CONVO decided to interview these amazing artists to ask them more about their project’s purpose, process and hopes for the future.
1. Who are the people that started this initiative?
We are Emma Calvo, José Guerrero and Irene Llorca—three Spanish art directors based in Barcelona and working in advertising. As the project grew, a copywriter (who is also our friend) based in Cologne, Germany joined the team. Her name is Dilay Yaman, and she is a project manager in a digital consulting agency.She is in charge of the Arts & Chats live sessions with artists.
2. Can you give us a brief background of your project?
Few days into the quarantine in Spain, we realized people were sharing artwork they created during the isolation. Lots of artists, both well-known and unknown, started pouring out their feelings, perceptions, and points of view about COVID-19 and being in quarantine into their art. We could sense a movement here and asked ourselves, “What would happen with all of this art?” We didn't want these artworks to be forgotten, so we came up with the idea of a digital museum to make [their art] more accessible for people all over the world.
3. Are there any other social media sites that the COVID Art Museum is on other than Instagram?
Yes! We are creating a website that will be ready soon, but at the moment, we are just on Instagram. This is allowing users a very high level of interaction (they can indicate which ones they liked the most, comment, see other users' opinions, propose new works to be published, etc.). We want to keep [Instagram] in our next steps. Moreover, it has a direct link (by tag) to the artists' Instagram accounts that allows people to learn more about their work and follow them if they are interested.
The project has become very large during the quarantine, but it doesn't end here. We are working on a transmedia strategy to expand the phenomenon beyond Instagram. At the moment, apart from the website, we are working on the creation of a book, catalogue, and exhibition projects.
Regarding the website:
The upcoming website for the COVID Art Museum initiative is designed by award-winning art director Zhenya Rynzhuk, who is also well-regarded as a 2020 Webby Winner, an Independent of The Year in Awwwards 2019, and an Awwwards Judge from 2018 to 2020.
This website will empower creatives from all around the world to join this noble initiative by submitting their work through a special form, and it will also tell the story about the founders of the project and their vision. Every single work matters as art is what brings meaning and purpose to humanity, helping people get through these rough pandemic times.
The website will be brought to life by a highly-skilled team from Synchronized Studio that creates unparalleled digital experiences to bring strategic value and make a change.
4. How did your team react when you saw that more people were beginning to recognize your work?
We were very enthusiastic. It was very exciting because the surprise keeps growing. At first, you get the interest of family and friends, then unknown users join, and finally, you manage to reach artists that at first seemed unreachable.
We are proud of all the work and time we have dedicated, especially when we receive feedback from our audience that says that we have helped them in some way carry on with the quarantine. That makes us very happy! Also, to help unknown artists share their voice and be known is such an honor.
5. What events from the pandemic motivated you to build your platform?
The essential event from which the museum is born is the quarantine. In other countries, it has been milder, but here in Spain, we were strictly locked up at home for about fifty days. In the first days, many initiatives arose to help people keep themselves animated, entertained, and accompanied. We wondered what we could do, so that's when we discovered people creating art and sharing it on Instagram. That was also essential because that's what triggered the idea. Finally, without Instagram, [the project] wouldn't have been possible either because it's what allowed us to access a lot of connected people around the world.
"Summer of 2020" by @dan_cretu
"Summer Dreams" by aykutmaykut
6. What were the difficulties that you've encountered?
Perhaps, the most difficult thing has been to make the project known. We have contacted many media outlets to see if they were interested in talking about the museum or publishing about it. one of them has never replied back, but when the response was positive, we achieved a great benefit.
7. By making the COVID Art Museum, what message are you trying to show to the world?
The pandemic has become a global phenomenon, which means that all over the planet, there are people locked up in quarantine who go through difficult times of fear, loneliness, and stress. You might not know it, but someone on the other side of the world is experiencing the same exact feelings. That's why we believe that art is important. Art is a very powerful communication tool that builds connections, and in many cases, helps to overcome those feelings. Also, through art, you are able to evade yourself for a little while. It can also be seen as a therapy. In any case, we can all agree that culture (art, TV series, books, etc.) has certainly helped us all through the pandemic.
Art has intertwined itself with human culture for centuries, and with an event that’s going to be etched into history books, it’s not surprising to see the resurgence of art once more. Not only does the COVID Art Museum spark dialogue between content creators, but it also gives them a safe space to channel their emotions into beautiful pieces. It’s safe to say that, in some way, the COVID Art Museum has helped bring back human connection in a time when it seemed almost impossible—and that purpose alone has touched the world.
JULY 1, 2020