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Fighting Covid: Creating Through The Uncertainty

Kory Russel speaks out on the struggles artists are facing during COVID-19

Everyone is affected by the coronavirus. Often in the news, the world faces challenges on a smaller scale, perhaps narrowed down to certain countries and peoples. The coronavirus is worldwide, affecting everything from the economy to relationships with friends and family. 

A lot of people have struggled with greater difficulty than others during this time. Some are without work, while others put themselves at risk to maintain essential businesses. Few people have the benefit of the ability to work from home. Luckily, artists most often do their work from home. However, this does not exclude them from the current crisis. 

Kory Russel, a local Chattanooga artist we have worked with before, has been impacted by the pandemic in more ways than one. A little over a month ago, Kory was busy preparing pieces for upcoming festivals and commissions. With such events postponed indefinitely and commissions delayed, Kory has found creating to be challenging. 

“As far as artwork goes, it’s been really tough to get motivated to do much of anything now, and I’m hearing that from a lot of artists for some reason.  I’m having to really discipline myself to get in the basement and work,” he shared. 

Many local artists feel the same way. Finding it difficult to muster the motivation to create. Thankfully, there are sources of support locally doing their best to sustain artists during these unsure times. Artsbuild is currently offering grants to artists who have lost work due to the pandemic, and The National Endowment for The Arts also acts as a great support system. 

Speaking of support, artists tend to hit big in the summer when festivals are live. Since summer is a realm of uncertainty, the showcase platform is gone, along with the majority of their income. 

“We’re still able to work, we just need people who want art to buy it, and we are without the platform that makes us money this time of year.  It couldn’t have hit at a worse time for artists,” Kory shared. 

Luckily, a vast majority of artists have online shops such as Etsy. Some, like Kory, are offering prints at a discount. While Kory may make less than normal, it is still income that he otherwise wouldn’t have. Until things go to normal, shopping online is a great way to support local artists. 

There is no doubt that everyone is struggling. Those who make art their full-time careers often already struggle. During times like this, art is sometimes the last thing people think of. However, artists need support now more than ever. 

“There will definitely be a shift in buying habits and no one knows what that will mean yet,” Kory shared. 

The uncertainty of it all is the most threatening thing. People could long for more vibrancy in their homes, reaching out to local artists to decorate their walls. 

“Artists who were doing really well before may have to change up their work to sell to the new market or may find themselves at a loss for what to do to make a living,” Kory said. 

While life right now is unpredictable, there is one thing for certain; local artists need support. Prints are a great way to liven up your walls without breaking the bank. 

“Take this time to fill your house up with things you love. Get on Etsy, and find your Chattanooga artists on there,” Kory encouraged. 

Every little bit helps. There is no better time to build a community, and there is nothing that brings a community together like art. With each other's help, we can overcome this. 

Please drop by Kory Russel’s website at He is also on Instagram, @koryrussel_art and has a Facebook page.

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