Holly Wong is an artist based in San Francisco, California
TWS –How are you doing in this Covid-19 pandemic?
HW –I think that overall, I am doing well but I still feel very emotional at times. I live in San Francisco where we have been under shelter in place since March 17th and as the weeks have passed, I have gone through various phases in how I experience this. I think initially, I was very obsessed with the news reports and felt very out of control with the constant flow of information and uncertainty. The impact on healthcare front line workers is very powerful and I feel deeply for the ways in which they literally are risking their lives to save others. I think over time, I have settled into these feelings and have realized that the only way I personally can be helpful is to be a productive member of society in whatever way I can, to be generous to others and most importantly to be kind, loving and patient to the people around me (even when it seems we are crawling the walls!)
TWS –Are you being able to telecommute / work from home?
HW –I have been able to telecommute. I work full time for a public university in San Francisco and all of my work can be done remotely. Unlike so many others who have been unable to earn income and have had to face many hours of unoccupied time, I have felt a lot of busyness as my job moves 100% into my home. There are endless hours of zoom meetings, and lots of fumbling with technology. There is also the loss of rapport that is built up through connecting with people in real life. What did that email really mean? Why didn’t I get a text back? And so on…..It is really important to stay in your own truth, relax and not assume meaning.
TWS –Did the lock-down affected your creativity and art making? How?
HW –Ironically the lock-down has had a very positive impact on my art making. My studio and all my supplies are located in my home so I fortunately was not cut off from my regular creative space as many artists have been. Because I have not had to commute to work, it has added another hour to my studio practice every day and has allowed me to focus on completing “Spiral Dance” which is a very large drawing installation. It was supposed to be exhibited at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in April of 2020 but with that exhibit rescheduled for February 2021, this huge drawing is now suspended in my living room where I have moved out all the furniture to accommodate it. Being under lock down has also allowed me to really focus on the work itself and not all the mania of shipping it, packing it, framing things, etc. Just pure exploration to wherever I feel like going.
TWS –Are you able to track positive moments or things that happened during this crisis so far?
HW –Yes I have been able to track positive moments and this has mostly occurred through art making since it is my marker of time. Without making my work, I don’t think I would know where I was in my life. I have been submitting my work to a number of online opportunities around art-making under COVID-19 and have really appreciated the discipline of being required to look back over the last month and explain to others what it has all meant. I have also really enjoyed spending time with family members and having long conversations because we aren’t racing to go and “be somewhere.” I have also learned to really appreciate simple things like canned vegetables and slow cooking foods and stretching meals. Shopping is a nightmare and I really avoid it if I can so appreciating the humble things on hand has been really meaningful.
TWS –What’s the first thing you would like to do when we can get back to normal?
HW –I really want to visit museums and galleries again. I love being in the presence of the work, meeting artists and having community on that level. That said, I definitely have treasured listening to podcasts, doing artist “hangouts” in zoom, listening to artists talk via webinar, and in general, being able to have so many cultural offerings remotely that were never available before. In some ways, what I have access to in shelter in place has been expansive and my cultural experience has broadened. But at the same time, I want to be there with the work. I was watching a documentary about minimalist art the other day and while the images of the work were impressive as was the commentary from the curators, in my view, minimalist art (like so many other forms of art) is best experienced with the body, in terms of how it relates in the physical space, how my body relates to the work, how the light hits the work and how it changes over time. I am hopeful this will happen again. I fear that so many cultural institutions will disappear and I have to remind myself that just for today, I will have hope and I will help others one day at a time.