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Features Mississippi artists share hope during COVID-19

Mississippi artists share hope during COVID-19

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While the spring is usually filled with concerts, festivals and markets for fans to attend, the pandemic has unfortunately put that all on hold.  

A Mississippi springtime favorite festival is Double Decker, a weekend festival in Oxford that was scheduled for this past weekend. Eden Flora, an Oxford watercolor artist, registered art therapist and mother of two, was one of the many artists who would’ve had a booth. Despite the pandemic, she has been resourceful in using Instagram and her website to sell her collection. 

Flora described her work as colorful, whimsical mixed media using watercolor and acrylic paint. She draws inspiration from tying the realistic approach to the joys, anxiety and despair of Christian life to beauty and truth.  

Flora uses painting to cope with the uncertainty of the pandemic. She is also taking an online business course for artists that provides structure for her week and gives her an online community. Through this new community, Flora has been able to see people desire art during COVID-19.  

“People so badly want beauty to encourage them right now and are finding that through artwork. I would say that COVID-19 is pushing people to appreciate and value artists more, and [that they] are very sensitive to see that small businesses are hurting,” Flora said.  

Flora has found that her online community has been supporting, uplifting and encouraging for her and other local artists during this time. 

Brookhaven native Sam Mooney is a singer-songwriter based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Despite Mooney’s tour being cancelled due to COVID-19, he has been doing session work, where he plays keyboard on other artist’s albums. Mooney’s used this slow time to improve the business and management side of his music.  

Early into the COVID-19 outbreak, Mooney had a partnership with Leesta Vall Sound Recordings to do “Shut-in Sessions” in Brooklyn, New York, where he recorded unique vinyl records for fans. The partnership is used to combat the loss of touring revenue for artists during the pandemic. 

Recently, Mooney has been doing Instagram Lives to interact with his fans during quarantine. Being based in the Southeast, he doesn’t have the opportunity to travel to all the cities near his fans, but live streaming has helped give him real-time interactions. 

From an artistic standpoint, it’s hard on Mooney to not be on the road and playing shows. Mooney struggled with vocal issues earlier this year, so he took a break from his music and was ready to start the spring tour. However, once the COVID-19 outbreak occurred, he was stopped in his tracks. Since most of an artist’s revenue comes from playing shows, it’s been a struggle for him to have his spring tour cancelled and to rebook dates for the summer, not knowing if the rescheduled dates will even happen.  

“My life for the last six years has been very mobile; I feel like I’ve lived out of a suitcase ever since I graduated high school. It’s beyond not having shows. It is a total lifestyle change to not be traveling and performing shows,” Mooney said.  

Shelby Leigh Kizer of Petal is a watercolor artist and owner of Shelby Leigh Designs. She has implemented this lifestyle change in her work. Kizer’s work is gestural, whimsically inspired by nature and landscapes, so she would normally spend her days traveling around Mississippi creating pieces. Due to the pandemic, however, she is stuck inside the city. 

Kizer has used this time of rest to create a new floral collection that she’s titled “Be Still.” She was inspired by the inconsistencies of the pandemic to find peace and a constant in God, so she wrote scripture on the back of each piece in the series. 

“It made me take the beauty that was already there and push me out of my regular box and just focus on the beauty around me even though there’s chaos everywhere,” Kizer said.  

Similar to Mooney, Kizer has also been doing Instagram lives of her creating pieces. She says she’ll continue to do them after the pandemic, because people have been really engaged and interested in the process behind her art.  

During this time of quarantine creativity is in bloom and this is the case for Lindsay Miller native of Laurel is a part time artist based out of Birmingham, Alabama. Miller had just graduated from Ole Miss and was in the college adult stage of life when her business, Good Soil began. Good Soil grew out of a time with need to create beauty in the midst of a dark and new time in her life. Her paintings are inspired by the moto “bloom where you’re planted” they are a whimsical view of flowers and landscapes.  

After taking a four-month hiatus from Good Soil, the pandemic has actually allowed Miller to dig into her passion for painting and find her identity in her business Good Soil. Miller has created a new series called “Daydreams” which will be a vibrant representation of Miller’s imagination.  

Miller has found the stillness of the pandemic to be a struggle but has also used this time to see the goodness of others in the world and the hope of Jesus the true hope.  

“Through the pandemic we see the goodness of people flourishing, despite the pain in the world. Isolation has also seemed to make things bloom more, we have to think, create and imagine more,” Miller said. 

During this time of uncertainty, one thing remains constant: the need for art in human life. All of these Mississippi artists have found hope and joy in the midst of chaos. They all encourage fans and residents of Mississippi to support the artists of their home state.  

To support the artists in this article, you can follow Mooney at www.sammooneymusic.com or stream his music on Spotify and Apple Music. Flora’s work can be found through Instagram or at https://www.edenwflora.com. Kizer’s work can be found at https://thecarongallery.com/Artist/shelby-kizer/ and www.shelbyleighdesigns.com. Miller’s work can be found at https://www.etsy.com/shop/GoodSoilStudio

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