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For local artists, pandemic is both a roadblock and an inspiration

Singer and artist Sharmin Begum has found a way to remain creative and make money by producing greeting cards during this pandemic quarantine.


By Joe Myrick
Special to The Review
Can creativity be sustained in a world that isn’t emotionally invested in creativity with bigger things going on?
That might be a question on your mind if you, yourself, are a creative artist. Among the countless things that the novel coronavirus pandemic affects include how creators create.
Creativity thrives off of feeling, but if the world is far too collectively drained — emotionally, mentally, and physically — to truly feel, where does creativity then come from?
Even for those who are in the mindset or motivation to create right now, it’s hard sometimes to make art solely from the confines of your living room.
Hamtramck itself has always been bursting with art, and to see an increasing lack of art in the middle of all this is disheartening. That’s why we took the time to speak to three local artists, to see how they are holding up under our current, extreme circumstances.
Among the artists we spoke to was Christopher Jarvis, a musician/filmmaker who recently directed “Bruised Fruit,” a short film starring Alex Meitz and Adam Fuller of Planet Ant’s “Alex Knows It All” (who we interviewed last year).
He perhaps illustrated the world’s current predicament best when he told us, “It’s like we’re all mourning the loss of a future that holds any prospect right now.”
Jarvis admits he’s been “up and down” emotionally since this whole thing started.
The aforementioned “Bruised Fruit” was on its way to being accepted entry into multiple film festivals before everything was postponed and/or cancelled.
“It’s really heartbreaking for all of us. We put so much work into the film, and had plans to travel with it. So that’s all up in the air now,” Jarvis said.
As far as other projects are concerned, Jarvis has at least made “slow progress” on another short film he shot right before the quarantine, and has been trying to work on music, writing, and video projects.
In addition, he released his visual album – “Sunset, Somewhere” — on YouTube this week.
You can follow his work on Instagram @tangleformations, @core4_productions and @ancientlanguage.
Similarly, Kaitlin Noelle (another artist we interviewed previously, found has been rocked by the pandemic. Most of all, she mourns for “friends who have lost work, for families struggling to find food and educational resources, for healthcare workers on the frontlines, and for people losing loved ones to this.”
In the midst of the chaos, she’s been moved by the kindness of others in the community. Specifically, those who donate their own time and resources (such as those who make masks at home and send food to hospital staffs) to those who need them most.
How fellow artists responded to uncertainty with innovation; offering virtual tour galleries, online paint parties, and tips on how to succeed in the art world.
She currently stays afloat by booking commissions, selling pieces online, and painting when she can (she’s even been directly inspired by the pandemic, recently painting a microscopic view of the virus itself).
With the virus postponing the next couple of months’ worth of events, especially during a spring/summer time where artists rely on selling art in public settings, the future remains as uncertain as ever.
But as the coronavirus spreads throughout the planet, she finds solace in a Chuck Close quote: “Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you did today, and at least for a certain period of time, you can just work. If you hang on there, we can get somewhere.”
That sort of optimism is showcased in the final artist we spoke to, Sharmin Begum (creatively, as a musician/dancer, best known as “Lil Sharms”) who has been just as astounded by the virus.
Out of a sense of both shock and optimism, she feels more inclined to express those feelings by creating art.
“It actually motivated me, and provided me with more opportunities,” Begum said. “The streets being quieter allows me to be more patient with what I’m capturing.”
Along with her rap music, the Hamtramckan has committed to selling greeting cards to those who need them in these trying times. You can order a card through her @sharmsart Instagram page, and check out her music there through @lilsharms.
Each artist in this article, as is the case with each artist in the world, is dealing with the world’s events in their own unique way.
Some take motivation and resilience from this strife. Others struggle for that same motivation. And that’s okay. There’s no right or wrong way to combat something so unprecedented in the world.

Posted April 24, 2020

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