Barb Hunt-Atwell was one of 10 participants in the Pandemic Art Exchange, which wrapped up in Hay River on June 17.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Even during a pandemic, art must go on.

On June 17, the Pandemic Art Exchange – a project involving multiple anonymous artists contributing to the same pieces of art over five weeks – wrapped up in Hay River.

The project, which began in May, was organized by Dale Loutit, one of the artists.

“I thought it was a great idea considering how dreadful Covid-19 has been on everybody and how we’ve been having to social distance from people,” Loutit said. “It’s definitely created a disconnect between us socially. So I thought it was a good way to keep us connected, and in a safe manner.”

The project involved 10 artists divided into two teams of five.

Each of the artists started a painting/drawing, and Loutit would then rotate the works to the other artists on a team. That means five artists would contribute to one work.

“Each of them had their own canvas to paint on,” said Loutit. “And each week they would submit it to me and I’d switch it with another person who’s on their team. And the teams are anonymous.”

In the end, there were 10 completed paintings/drawings, and the person who started a work kept it.

The artists gathered on June 17 to see all the completed works.

Along with Loutit, the project involved Ashley McKay, Mary Buckley, Barb Hunt-Atwell, Jillian Zdebiak, Kirsten Fischer, Heather Hirst, Lisa Ruggles, Kate Latour and Cynthia Mandeville.

Loutit was impressed with the finished works of art.

“I can’t believe how talented these people are for all their art capabilities,” she said. “It’s blown me away how artistic they are and how amazing.”

It was recommended that they not paint with oils, since that takes too long to dry, but they could use anything else for the works of art, including pencils, markers, stickers and even fabric.

When Loutit received the works back each week, she took progress photos so that, in the end, everyone could see the evolution of the creations over time.

The organizer was inspired to start the Pandemic Art Exchange when a friend in Yellowknife launched a similar project there.

Loutit ensured safety from the coronavirus during the project by having the works of art placed in envelopes and dropped into a bin outside of her home.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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