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Seeking Artistic Inspiration

Kristen Cooney ’22 shares her top five tips for finding artistic inspiration during the stay-at-home order in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cooney is one of nine Ursinus student artists whose work is on view during the digital Annual Student Exhibition on the Berman Museum of Art’s website. She said, “This pandemic has certainly posed a lot of challenges for artists, whether financially, with museum exhibitions, or even causing lack of access to supplies. Thankfully, the biggest challenge I have had is only regarding the latter in terms of art making.”

With most of Cooney’s art supplies locked away in Ritter Center, she was forced to explore new mediums. “I typically work in watercolors, pen and ink, or with analog cameras, but…I have been forced to be more resourceful in what mediums I use and how I use them,” she said. “I have been using ash and charcoal from our fireplace to make my own ash paints to create works. I am also lucky enough to live adjacent to a decently sized meadow, where I have been able to pick flowers that I have been pressing and preserving to make art.”

Here are five things that drove Cooney’s creative process during the online learning period:

1. First and foremost, nature! Even if I can’t be outside all the time, simply opening my windows to here songbirds singing, wind rustling the leaves, and letting in some fresh air is a great motivator, especially during the bloom of a sweet Pennsylvania spring.

2. Being at home and in my room so much, keeping the space I inhabit clean and colorful has been a priority. It has been a daily task, rotating different artwork on and off my wall as I finish them, and that helps cultivate routine and the motivation to keep moving forward by feeling productive.

3. Spending a lot more time with my family has also been a great opportunity. By having movie nights, among other activities, has restored some semblance of routine that was lost due to the pandemic, which is good for all of us and is a great way to keep our hopes up.

4. Spending time with all my pets has also been a great way to continue being creative and motivated. I get to be with my dog so much more than I would during the semester, and his goofy spirit has been a great inspiration during everything going on. I also have some naturalistic terrariums which house poison dart frogs, my other unique pets. Being in my room so much daily, I get to see what their routines are like and watch them move about with their beautiful bright colors. They have provided me with plenty of creative drive just by observing them so much more.

5. Lastly, I’ve been able to go on more walks to places I typically wouldn’t, including my own backyard! They have been a great way to stay active, healthy and inspired despite the pandemic. I have also been collecting flowers to press for displays and make herbariums for decoration.