By Jezreel Ines
Art By Julia Crame
The COVID-19 across the globe has caused a tremendous change to the activities and everyday lives of people. Due to the limitations, people’s lifestyles have rarely extended beyond the confines of their homes.
Like everyone else, these changes also affected artists. The pandemic has also taken them to find new space for their creativity and challenged creators to generate innovative ideas to continue their craft.
However, the past two years under the pandemic have been difficult for these artists, as it brought challenges and adjustments for most of their creativity routines.
University of the Philippines Baguio fine arts student Lianne Tamares found herself having difficulty in creating her artwork due to the limitations imposed by the quarantine.
“I really find it difficult to get my needed materials in doing my artworks because of the quarantine, just like now that the cases are surging again and lockdowns have already in place in my area,” she said.
As the learning shifted to online platforms, Lianne also struggled to study the lessons she needed as a fine arts student.
“To be honest, sometimes I suffer from burnout because of the current learning setup. Sometimes I don’t get much knowledge in my class that’s why it is very difficult for me to keep going because I have to teach myself,” Lianne admitted.
For some of us, coffee has probably been an important part of our daily morning routine. There is nothing good like that first cup of coffee in the morning when we wake up. Its magical aroma will make you suddenly awake and will give you the motivation to tackle your day head-on.
However, who would have thought that this energy-uplifting drink would be a great medium to keep our creative juices flowing? For artists like Sunshine Plata-Alimagno, coffee is more than just a drink but a new way of giving a new flavor to her artwork.
However, her creative journey during the pandemic has been bitter-sweet.
Sunshine always found herself catching up with her artworks and looking for that little nook of solitude as she expressed herself through her art.
She said it helped her rub off the seasonal burnout from day-to-day life trifles especially now in the current situation.
“It is actually in times such as these like now that there’s a pandemic that I need that ‘creativity fix’ to keep me sane,” Sunshine said.
The coffee painting artist also mentioned that she would always ask her family to give her time to make art in order for her to de-stress and keep her creative juices flowing.
Bringing social change through artwork
Moreover, Lianne and Sunshine have found creative fuel in the chaos of the times.
Lianne’s’ artworks this quarantine mainly focused on some key social matters including LGBT issues, extra-judicial killings, and activism.
One of her favorite artworks that she created during quarantine was her work for Bahaghari UP Baguio for their Pride March celebration in June 2020.
“I want to emphasize that LGBT members in the community should also be celebrated and be part of Pride March,” Lianne said.
The artworks she made have become her platform for her advocacy to raise awareness about social issues among the people.
“I don’t want to create a simple artwork, because for me, I enjoy incorporating social issues into my artworks,” the fine arts student said.
For a coffee painter like Sunshine, her new venture in this non-conventional art medium only started as an experiment. She would use different types of coffee in her painting and would explore her art styles using this medium.
However, her curiosity to use this unconventional medium led her to be recognized by Ripley’s Believe It or Not and, on the Martha Stewart Show in their “Art That Fools the Eye” episode.
One of her favorite artworks is the Kapihan, which depicts three children of a coffee farmer in the farmland. In this piece, she also showcased her signature art style of incorporating patterns and swirls along with her subject.
Sunshine also explained that farmers, in general, have been close to her heart which is why some of her most valuable artworks have farmers as a subject.
She emphasized that through this, she could pay a tribute to the hard work of farmers in providing not just the coffee, but also the food that we consume everyday.
“Especially now during a pandemic, we really see the importance of their work. I want to give an ode to the farmers as a whole, that their work is a crucial job. If there are no farmers, we will have no food on our table,” Sunshine explained.
Keeping the fire burning, building bridges
The dreaded COVID-19 may have challenged Lianne and Sunshine’s ability to keep their creative spark alive.
However, this challenging time also forged them to adapt, innovate, and seek creative ways to build immeasurable possibilities in doing their chosen advocacy using their artworks.
The appreciation she gets from other people motivated her to continue pursuing her advocacy amid challenges.
“Nagi-inspire sa akin ay iyong mga tao, when I see that my works are effective, that inspires me more to continue despite the challenges,” she said.
For her, it’s not a question of what her art is, but for whom her art is. “I want to show the everyday struggles of the people for us to become aware of the real situation on the ground and demand accountability for their sufferings,” she added.
Meanwhile, Sunshine believed that creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and resourcefulness play big roles in the way people resolve day-to-day problems, especially in the context of pandemic.
“If we don’t risk or even try, we will never know that most of the time, the results can be immeasurably exceptional,” the coffee painting artist said.
Sunshine also encouraged people to continue forming links and building bridges to create unique possibilities despite many limitations, and use God-given talents to victoriously serve and conquer common battles.
This article is part of the celebration of World Creativity and Innovation Day, a global UN day celebrated on April 21 to raise awareness around the importance of creativity and innovation in problem-solving with respect to advancing the United Nations sustainable development goals, also known as the “global goals.”