Artist Tiffany Patterson on the challenges of making art amid a pandemic, and how galleries going online increases art access

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click to enlarge Artist Tiffany Patterson on the challenges of making art amid a pandemic, and how galleries going online increases art access
Tiffany Patterson has found inspiration in the pandemic, but not every day.

On April 16, Tiffany Patterson shared a simple painting with some friendly advice to fellow artists and friends: "Be kind to yourself, this shit is hard."

In a post on her artist Facebook page introducing the image, painted in a rainbow of vivid watercolors, Patterson shared thoughts familiar to many creatives feeling pressure to use "extra" time at home during quarantine to prolifically make art.

"Some days I can't seem to bring myself to do anything at all," Patterson writes. "Other days I start giant projects and make work in a frenzy, just to keep my hands busy. We are all experiencing grief, and there's no right way to feel."

The Spokane artist, known for her whimsical style and pastel-hued palette, has found some solace, however, by focusing on smaller projects, including simple collages and poetry. Both are media she's begun to dabble in more since the pandemic set in. Online art-making prompts, like those from a locally run Facebook group called Art Isolation Experiment spearheaded by artist Melanie Lieb Taylor, have also been a source of inspiration and motivation for Patterson and others.

"Hashtags and group projects and themes or prompts are helping to give me something to do," Patterson says. "For me it's like this built-up energy that I need to get out, and that is sort of the reason behind making art. So it's not like [my motivation] is gone, it's just changed."

That said, the artist, who also works full-time as a designer for a local ad agency, says she's struggled to plan projects further into the future, hopefully in a post-pandemic world.

"Someone asked me if I wanted to schedule a gallery show, and I almost had a panic attack," she says. "The idea of scheduling something at this point; everything feels so unsure. The world I was making in before doesn't feel relevant right now. And my work has changed from being about crafting these fictional stories more toward me expressing what I am feeling in the moment."

While experiencing art in person at galleries and other public spaces is on hold, Patterson says she's enjoying the many new opportunities to view art outside the Spokane area that she might not otherwise get to see, pandemic or not.

"There have been a few Portland galleries that I like to go to when I'm there, but it's nice to see the shows and see the artist without traveling," she says. "I think that is the future of art shows, and I think that has really given access to a lot of people who wouldn't be able to see those shows and go to galleries and museums. I hope that continues after all this is over, because it really is very inclusive and an amazing way for people to experience art."♦

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About The Author

Chey Scott

Chey Scott is the Inlander's Arts and Culture Editor and editor of the Inlander's yearly, glossy magazine, the Annual Manual. Chey (pronounced "Shay") is a lifelong resident of the Spokane area and a graduate of Washington State University. She's been on staff at the Inlander since 2012...