Mixed Media collage, 2020
My name is Sara Ware Howsam and this piece is titled Pandemic/Covid Spring. Struggling to deal with the historic 2020 Global Pandemic, each of us found unique ways to cope with sorrow, loneliness and the angst of quarantine. In my case, I spent the last year creating a Pandemic Diary, comprised of mixed media photo collages partnered with written journal entries which capture the progression of the virus and my own artistic journey. Throughout history, artists have used precious materials in their work - whether grinding costly lapis lazuli to make paint or illuminating canvases with delicate gold leaf. So I chose to amuse myself by working with a highly prized pandemic commodity: toilet paper. Using the lifelines of the quarantine, my cell phone and computer, I began an investigation of light and shape by arranging and photographing toilet paper still lifes. I then painted, clipped and collaged the photos to document the unfolding Pandemic. Although, I initially approached this series playfully, the joke was on me. My underlying emotional stress emerged, and the collages reveal a frightening and bizarre world where a deadly virus lurks outside our doors. Pandemic/Covid Spring was created in May of 2020 at which time I wrote in my diary: These surreal blooms capture a peculiar moment. Springtime is a schizophrenic season here at the foot of Pikes Peak. Deceptively warm spring days alternate with frosty days and chilling winds. In a similar fashion, news of the pandemic alternates between dire statistics of a rising death toll and reports of relaxed quarantine restrictions as some businesses reopen. Cool May temperatures and the ongoing quarantine, keep me indoors. I observe the first signs of spring through my studio window with mixed emotions. My artwork continues to evolve, documenting a threatening, turbulent time and expressing my own subconscious fears and confusion. Cutting apart my photographs and collaging the bits and pieces, I challenge myself to paint my emotions with scraps of paper.