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5 Queens artists speak on creating during COVID-19

As COVID-19's impact is continually felt worldwide, artists have found new ways to be creative and produce their work. Whether they're streaming a dance class on Youtube or auditioning for a role online, the creative community's resiliency has been on display during this pandemic. We interviewed 5 Queens artists to hear how the current times have affected their art, and how they plan to bounce back.

Artists interviewed:

Vito Oliva - Photographer

Amanda Morris - Actor

Cheyenne Coston - Mixed media artist

Adam Hutcheson - Saxophonist

Steven Fowler - Trumpeter

1. First off, how has COVID-19 impacted your industry directly?

Amanda Morris - Covid-19 hit my industry pretty hard. theaters across the country are closed and there aren’t many auditions happening for film and television work. Actors who were in shows or had upcoming gigs either had them rescheduled or cancelled altogether.

Steven Fowler - As far as going out and performing which is how I primarily make my living, that’s non existent.

Cheyenne Coston - The art shows I had scheduled for March and April have been postponed until further notice. Everything I planned in February for the spring is now up in the air. The uncertainty of the situation does make me a little nervous.

Adam Hutcheson, Saxophonist

2. Has distancing killed your inspiration or have you continued to be in a creative head space?

Adam Hutcheson - I've actually been more inspired since the stay at home order because I've had so much time to practice the horn. I'm really forcing myself to work on weaknesses, and I've found myself being more focused since I don't have the pressure of having to leave the house for work and gigs. The downfall is that I miss playing with people so I hope this ends soon so we can make music again.

Cheyenne Coston - I'm trying to be creative during this time but it's not easy for me. At first, I felt like I should use this time to create a whole new series of work but I haven't been inspired to. I've sat in front of a blank canvas multiple times and nothing has come to me. I accepted that my approach isn't getting me anywhere and decided to readjust. As of lately I've been doing some loose sketches of faces, little weird objects I have at home, and foliage (things that remind me of outside). While it's not what I want it to be, these exercises do help me cope with any anxiety or pressure I've been feeling.

Steven Fowler - Well creatively speaking, Covid-19 has caused me to dig deeper into my musicianship as far as what I want to learn and express. All of my gigs have been canceled so far but it has also given rise to me tapping into the digital world of recording and creating music.

Amanda Morris - I’ve been able to perform in a short film that’s actually focused on issues caused by COVID-19. It was well received and screened on Smile Jamaica TVJ (Jamaica’s Good morning America) followed by a Skype interview. I’ve also been writing a lot of blog posts for my blog #MandaWrites

Vito Oliva - I am a restaurant manager and I didn’t have much time at all to work on my art. Because of the pandemic I am out of a job for now. This obviously sucks for a bunch of reasons, but I have been able to take advantage of my extra time and really focus on taking photos and learning new editing techniques. The self quarantine doesn’t bug me as much as it does others. I’m pretty good at having to stay home! I’ve been making sure I get out for at least a little bit every day, taking walks around my neighborhood (taking precautions to make sure I’m #socialdistancing) and taking photos. Also I’ve been able to tackle a backlog of photos that needed editing. So I’m releasing stuff that I had shot long ago that never got any justice. So yeah theres been a considerable uptick in the amount of art I’ve been able to produce during all of this.

Amanda Morris, Actor

3. Vito, as a photographer, have you felt the creative urge to document this time in history?

Vito Oliva - As a photographer you try to capture the times. So creatively, I think theres a lot to do with this pandemic. The streets are empty, everyones wearing masks, there are lines around the corner of every grocery store, essential workers going to and from work….theres an aesthetic there that begs to be captured, and a story that needs to be told to our future generations.

Steven Fowler, Trumpeter

4. Have you been able to connect with your creative peers online at all?

Amanda Morris - I have. I’ve been able to Facetime people to chat and bounce ideas off each other. I’ve also been having general meetings with casting directors online as well.

Steven Fowler - Oddly enough I’ve heard from musician colleagues of mine that I don’t normally hear from at all and have even met new musicians because of this crisis via the internet.

Vito Oliva, Photographer

5. Are there any Grants or programs that you've found helpful and wish to share?

Adam Hutcheson - I've seen a few on social media but I haven't done too much research on them. I'm lucky enough to scrape by right now teaching online lessons so I think the relief money is better in other artists' hands who have lost all their income.

Amanda Morris - Yes! I was blessed to receive some compensation from the Convertkit Creator Fund.

Cheyenne Coston, Visual Artist

6. As an artist, what are you looking forward to doing the most when things return to normal?

Cheyenne Coston - Funny enough, when this started I thought it would be light work. I'm naturally introverted and I enjoy being at home. Believe it or not, I miss outside and people a lot. When this passes I want to go to more shows even if I'm not a part of them. I look forward to going to festivals, concerts, and just interacting with people. I can't wait to experience art in person again.

Steven Fowler - As an Artist, I hope to have a lot of new music composed for both my small group and my Orchestra. Have new music recorded from my home studio that I’ve built and also cultivate new relationships and strength older ones by doing anything I can to help this industry and global economy grow and recover!

Amanda Morris - Honestly, I’m looking forward to the very first show I book after this. I don’t know if it will be theatre, film or television but I know it will be something special. I am looking forward to the unknown--I’m excited.

Adam Hutcheson - I look forward to the gigs. I hope that since so many of us are at home practicing and writing new music, there'll be a lot of new original musical to play and hopefully everyone will have elevated their playing. It's an exciting thought but the worry is that even when businesses start to open up, they won't have music for awhile because they won't be able to afford to pay the musicians. Let's hope that's not the case.

Vito Oliva - When this is all over I really look forward to being able to explore my city without all the social distancing and closures. I thrive on the city's liveliness, its people, crowds, bustling streets, traffic, noise, etc. I like taking photos of people, working, commuting, having fun, living their normal daily lives. So when things get back to normal I’ll definitely be out there. Oh yeah, and I miss the food.

For artists Grants and Resources, CLICK HERE

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