William Wendt [1865–1946] | San Juan Capistrano Road | Oil on Canvas | 25 x 30 inches Courtesy of Bonhams

Editor’s Note: Shortening the Distance

As I write this letter, a few states across the country are slowly reopening after closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The world has been a surreal place for some weeks now, a Twilight Zone of sorts. The pandemic has grounded us. It brought us indoors, shifted our daily routines, and demanded a moment of silence and suspension. We’ve sacrificed and grieved losses. Weightier still, at the end of this interlude, hangs the question: What kind of world do we build in the aftermath?

There’s something about social distancing that seems to go against our human nature, and during this time, when we are forced to be farther apart, art’s ability to connect us is that much more profound. Art finds common ground among us, between all of us. In uncertain times, we instinctively find comfort in creativity and imagination. Art can lift our spirits and nurture our minds; it can connect us to one another and restore our hope.

Over these last few months, artists have addressed the situation with an outpouring of creativity. And as surreal as this time of isolation has been, imagine enduring it without their input. Imagine the absence of street art that encourages a neighborhood, or of photos of healthcare workers in hospitals that call us to action. Imagine this period of solitude without the musicians that live-streamed concerts to our living rooms, without movies and books, or without the ballet dancers that performed in Amsterdam’s eerie, empty streets. Imagine if there were no classical artworks remixed on Instagram to wear face masks to help normalize our situation, or if there were no paintings and sculptures to bring beauty into our lives and balance the daily news. The art we turn to during this difficult period provides us not only with a diversion, but it also fills our lives with meaning.

“Struggle often leads to breakthroughs, whether in life or in painting,” says artist Jennifer Moses (“Refined Expression,” pg. 100). Each artist and creative individual profiled inside this issue offers a similar message of hope. They challenge us to find inspiration in the everyday details and to live an examined life, one that is attentive to the reasons for our priorities. My hope is that within this issue, you find reprieve from the world’s recent events, inspiration in beauty, and optimism in these stories.

We will persevere in the ways that artists and creatives have throughout all challenging periods in history, with passion, determination, and imagination, through hard work and the desire to share our thoughts in the hopes of finding that middle ground, that place of connection among strangers. And with that, we can always bridge the distance between us.

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