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Experiencing Isolation With Our Guest Writer: Mia Risberg

The word isolation has many, and mostly, negative associations. During the pandemic everyone is experiencing various challenges due to isolation. It’s been almost a year now that we are living under constraints. There is no doubt that for some the pandemic has been much more challenging than for others. However, no matter where you live, or who you are, a year is a long time to wear a mask, distance from others, be socially restricted while maintaining social contact, and manage kids schooling and familial well-being, among other things. All this while trying to retain some optimism about our collective future.

I am not pollyannaish by nature, so it came a little bit as a surprise to me that I’ve experienced several positive things during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s something I have been thinking about often in the past several months. I feel lucky in many ways. My family and I are currently healthy, my husband has job security, and we live in a house large enough that he and I, and our kids, can find space (sometimes from each other!) when we feel cooped up. Perhaps it is that perspective that has helped. Perhaps, as an artist, one is already accustomed to spending so much time working alone that it’s a little easier to adapt? Or maybe it’s a bit of both. I’m not sure I know the answer but it’s been interesting to think about.

   I miss having dinner or drinks with my friends. Hugging them. I miss going to gallery openings and striking up conversations with people. Standing in someone else’s proximity.

   If life is a road, I’ve been thinking of the pandemic as a big bump (probably surrounded by potholes!) but ultimately something we can look back on as a relatively short period of time.

Some things I appreciate that have helped combat isolation are the associations I’ve made through social media. I’ve invested more time in connecting with others virtually, and I’ve been lucky to have opportunities come from that. Another positive thing to come from the isolation is the quieting and slowing down of time.

   From a work perspective both of these things have been constructive. In my studio, it has felt like a good time to explore using different mediums. I’ve also worked with other artists at a distance on collaborative works, such as a Call and Response project, a Telephone thread, and an Exquisite Corpse piece and they have sparked new directions in my art.

   I’ve sometimes been more introspective, thinking about magical realism, and considering my connection to nature which is always soothing and constant. In my imagery, I find myself superimposing a layer of optimism or surrealness over the mundane or complicated realities of life. Perhaps this serves as an escape but, if so, it has been a productive one, so I’ll continue to make the most of this isolation for now.

“Inside World #4”, 20 x 24 inches, acrylic on wood panel, 2019
About the Artist
Mia Risberg is a painter based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who works mostly in acrylics, but also with oils, watercolors, and other materials. Born in Sweden, she spent her childhood often moving and living in various countries before settling in the United States as a young adult. She attended Pratt Institute and Hunter College where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Fine Arts. Mia worked for many years as a graphic designer and book designer in NYC, and raised two children, before returning to a full time art practice. She has exhibited at various venues in the U.S, and curated contemporary art exhibits for the Rasa festival, a multi-disciplinary event that promotes Indian culture. Last year, before the pandemic, she completed an arts residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
Nature and its visual details are a steady source of inspiration for me. I am interested in the relationship between humans and nature, and the notion of the natural world around us as being strong and resilient, at times unsettling or mysterious. My work depicts people, places and moments in time.These can be remembered or imagined, and are also sometimes enigmatic. I am inspired by observations, memories, photographs, an interest in ambiguous narratives, and magical realism. I am also intrigued by the viewers’ interpretation of work they see.
“Moth Woman”, 5 x 7 inches, acrylic on paper, 2019
Where can you find her?

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