Baton Rouge art in the age of coronavirus

How local visual artists are keeping creative despite—and in response to—2020's challenges

Have you been keeping a journal lately?

We’re living in hard times, but these days are also history-making. If each day of 2020 has seemed to turn the world more upside down than the last, imagine how these stories will sound when we repeat them decades from now to younger generations.

A hundred years into the future, those photos of us all wearing masks will feel just as far away as the black-and-white stills from the 1918 influenza pandemic.

But today’s headlines will be retold in history books. And those journal entries will become memoirs.

As the memories fade, 2020 will be immortalized through writing, photography—and art.

Even when the classrooms, restaurants, theaters, concert and event venues were shut down and everything—everything!—was canceled, we noticed something: Local artists never stopped creating. Not even for a day.

In the earliest phase of the stay-at-home order, outdoor murals were still being painted. Photographers were sharing their services to help shuttered restaurants. And artists were making face masks to keep us safe and inspire us.

And when the local conversation changed following George Floyd’s death, murals and art exhibits followed suit, exploring themes of racial injustices and diversity in education—and sending a message that Black lives matter.

By the time this magazine hits newsstands, there will be a little more than 100 days left in 2020. It’s hard to say what else those final weeks of the year will hold. But we’re confident that no matter what, artists will keep creating work that resonates in these sad, strange times.

Decades from now, you might not remember exactly how you felt in March or June or December of this year.

But when you look back at the art from today, one feeling might come flooding back: the hope it gave you the first time you saw it.


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