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As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds across the globe, the amalgamation of the arts and global health is becoming increasingly apparent. Recent examples include the One World Together at Home concert that raised over a hundred million dollars for the World Health Organization; #SolidarityShows: Love in the Time of Coronavirus co-curated by Christopher Bailey (WHO) and Lisa Russell (Create2030); ARTS x SDGs Online Festival; and Pictures for Elmhurst, to name but a few. Whether the goal is fundraising for frontline workers, keeping people sane through entertainment, building communities in a time of social distancing, or unraveling the complex emotions that that world is grappling to understand, global and grassroots artists around the world are proving themselves to be an integral part of healthcare and wellbeing.
As our modes of existence are forced to change, we as humanity need to acknowledge our grief over what we have lost, and find inspiration and hope for the future. Contemporary artists such as Lin Barrie from Zimbabwe are helping many do just that through their work. Recently, I was particularly struck by Lin’s series of sketches centered around the theme “to touch….or not to touch.”
Lin writes: “Across the whole world, social culture as we know it is changing, perhaps forever, and very fast. The handshake that we took for granted as a mark of trust and friendship is no longer. Coronavirus has severed our skin contact, our comfort zone, and our culture. My charcoal sketches and slideshow are in response.”
As I gaze at Lin’s sketches, I see feelings that I could not put into words displayed before my eyes. I understand the discomfort brewing in my chest over the past weeks. I can make sense of the awkwardness I feel when I meet people and I have to resist my instincts and fight my muscle memory to reach out and touch. I am homesick for a handshake.
As my emotions become tangible, I can mourn, and begin to heal.
Find out more about Lin Barrie at: Lin Barrie Art