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  • Ray Monde

Art in a time of coronavirus: COVID-19

Where do ideas come from (during the pandemic)?

Having worked in advertising for 20 years, where the business is built on great ideas, ‘where do ideas come from?’ is a question that everyone wants the answer to.

A brilliant idea can change the world. How do you generate a great idea? The best way for me is simple.

First take your brain. Fill it with lots of stuff about the problem you’re trying to solve. Next read a lot from many different sources. Add in random, unconnected stuff, preferably from things you haven’t done before. A movie, an art exhibition, a rodeo, a drive through a suburb you’ve never been to, random conversations with strangers. Then wait.

Your brain makes magical connections.

Your brain fits all those random pieces together and then unexpectedly something pops out. Before the novel corona virus shut down Seattle, we went to visit the newly reopened Seattle Asian Art Museum.

An incredible carefully curated space. I saw some Chinese scrolls there and I have seen a lot of them before – particularly on a trip last summer to Shanghai and Beijing.

Yet because Wuhan had been on the news because of COVID-19 and the city was in lock down, I took particular interest in them.

I loved how they were like a recreation of a miniature world, tiny characters dwarfed by a looming landscape. In many ways, I felt this must have been what it was like in the face of COVID-19, an almost unfathomable, overwhelming experience.

Then the first death from corona virus in the USA was in Washington State, right here in Seattle. And soon our city too was in lock down. Just like Wuhan.

As the world falls apart, I am far from home.

山水 Artwork by Ray Monde 雷蒙德

This work kind of sprang from no where. I had bought some cold-pressed Arches paper  and wanted to see how my collage work on it. I also had been randomly painting old magazine pages with acrylic paint to get a particular hue for my paper art.

The more I read about the Chinese landscape painting, the more this work came together. In the foreground is our lives today, people dying on the streets.

The the middle distance is Seattle, shuttered, closed, with no entry signs. And up on the mountain, is heaven, my home in Australia, totally out of reach.

Love in a time of coronavirus.

山水 Artwork by Ray Monde 雷蒙德

The first work lead to the second work. It’s my husband and I, socially distanced, isolating at home. He’s obsessively reading news updates and I am taking it all in. Thinking about a world that feels like the world we knew, now totally off-kilter.

The pine tree is representative of steadfastness. Partly about love but also about the things we hold close to our heart.

Waiting for the ghost ferry from the shuttered city.

山水 Artwork by Ray Monde 雷蒙德

Now I’m obsessively working on these paper-based Chinese-landscape inspired pieces. Since my studio is off-limits, these smaller scale works let me capture what I am thinking and feeling and, in a way, are cathartic.

Just like keeping a diary, putting my thoughts into pictures helps me work things through. Now, if only, I could work through my dreams which have become hyper-real and filled with family and friends.

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