An Art Exhibition on the COVID Years

During the last nine months I been preparing for an art exhibition: listening to stories, sketching ideas, painting rough drafts, scheduling critiques, and then back to the drawing board again. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about COVID, asking for God’s courage to know how to paint these dark times. I have been preparing for an art exhibition, “Saving Lives”. And today, I am pleased to share a taste with you.

Why COVID?

You might wonder why I’m spending so much energy and time on COVID. Undoubtedly, I have learned that no one wants to revisit these years. We are all happy to move forward into the new normal.

Undeniably, at this present time, we all bear damage from those years. Our damage comes from the reality that COVID created victims out of all of us (more on that here). How do we talk about the palpable pain of the past without anxiety strangling us? Most significantly, how do we gently awaken to what we have done to each other without shame twisting our stomachs?

I don’t know any other way around the darkness of pain except to walk through it. Significantly, it’s easier with the companions of gentleness and beauty. And this is what I’ve tried to create, a place to walk into pain with Beauty and Gentleness as our handmaidens.

Why Paint COVID?

As an author, words welcome me into a safe, happy place. I have written books that healed me from past trauma. I have penned sermons to teach audiences how to heal from spiritual abuse. However, to process COVID, I found art could reveal what words could not.  Painting the stories permitted me to plumb a deeper well of understanding. 

What Are You Painting?

In 2019, I was living in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with my husband and two sons. During the COVID years, we moved to New England and tried to find a new community. With my training as a historian, I studied the impact of COVID in these two regions, as well as in my home state of California. I began to paint what I saw. These paintings have become the “Saving Lives” art exhibition.

I noticed many stories missing from the public narrative. These people honored me by sharing, and then permitted me to paint their marginalized stories. These are the scenes I would paint on my walls and teach my children to understand the COVID years. I admire these people as samples of the thousands of unsung and unseen heroes many who persevered in patient silence. Some endured as friends, family and employers shamed, dismissed, canceled or fired them.

Below you’ll find all the details, but be sure to scroll to the bottom for a sneak-peek of one painting from “Saving Lives”.

Feel free to forward this email on to friends who may be in the New England area this summer. I look forward to meeting many of you at “Saving Lives”, a free art exhibition on the COVID years.

Location

“Saving Lives” will be held in downtown Exeter, at the Foundation Art Spaceon the River Side
111R Water Street, Exeter, NH
Parking Robert H. Stewart Waterfront Park then stroll the river walk to Foundation.

Dates: July 2023 select days
Thur (4 – 8), Fri (4 – 8), Sat (1 – 5)

Grand Opening – Sat. July 1, 1-5 pm
Live Harp Duo – Sat. July 8, 1 -3 pm

You’ll find art exhibition details at my homepage as well.

Sneak Peek

I painted Dr. Sheila after she inspired this painting with her story. Sheila even modeled and came up with the pose.  This is the final version which will make a live debut at “Saving Lives”, July 1, 2023. If you’re reading through email, click over to my blog post “An Art Exhibition of the COVID years” to see the process of this painting.

“Dr. Sheila, MD, Pediatrician”, original watercolor by Jonalyn Fincher, all rights reserved.

 

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You can see the way all my paintings start, with a few pencil sketches. I painted Sheila in this earlier version but her eyes were just too merry. I was going off her personality which is so warm and ready to laugh. But I knew I needed a more somber expression for the final piece.

I’ve also included a pic from Sheila and I in Costa Rica in January, celebrating her birthday together. The other sketches are thumbnails for more “Saving Lives” paintings.

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