Story Submitted by Zora Carrier, PhD – Florida Museum of Photographic Arts

There wasn’t a single person that the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t affect, that’s why it’s called a pandemic, the Greek root “pan” meaning “all.” Whether it meant suffering from the disease, from isolation, from financial struggles, or from grief, everyone was hurting.

Art has always been used to express feelings, especially for those that are not easily stated. In a time of such emotional and mental distress, feelings ran high across the country. The world needed art more than ever in 2020, and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts stepped up to help.

With the museum closed and stay at home orders in place, we got to work delivering art and art education to those who needed it, whether for catharsis, or just a fun activity to help the hours pass by. We launched online exhibitions and our Happy Talks lecture series, bringing our services directly into the homes of art-lovers around the world, whether they be artists, patrons, or anything in between. We also used our website as a platform for artists to contribute to our online exhibitions as well.

Even in the face of the pandemic, we ran our International Photography Competition, prompting artists to let their creativity and expression persevere, and showed an exhibition in our Community Gallery highlighting and discussing the Black Lives Matter protests in Tampa. We knew that as an art museum, we had a responsibility to deliver art to people that may be starved of interaction, community, or happiness.

Today, we continue to deliver Happy Talks and online exhibitions, because we understand this responsibility and want to keep doing what we can with our art and our resources. This summer, we are focusing on wellness with new Happy Talks, as well as Slow Art Workshops that focus on meditating with art while reflecting on how it makes us feel, because we know that the world has a ways to go before we can truly emerge from this pandemic. Even then, we want to be there to give each other art when we need it most.

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