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Quarantine Proving Creative Period For Some Artists

Kira Bursky

Kira Bursky certainly didn’t ask for a disruption like the Coronavirus. But as she talks about her latest video project, she sounds almost giddy about the effect of self-isolation.

Bursky said she’s mapping digital projections onto her drawings and turning these hybrids into short YouTube videos. And these represent just some of the new art people in this region say they wouldn’t otherwise be making if not for the time afforded by pandemic.

“One of the coolest things is finally having this freedom to experiment,” the Asheville filmmaker said. “I’ve had time to try new techniques out. And so because of what’s going on right now, it was a very natural thing to finally try it.”

Tyler Jackson is an Asheville rapper who records and performs under the name Musashi Xero. After the Coronavirus took hold in Western North Carolina, Jackson sent out an open call of sorts to beat producers. Jackson raps over their beats and publishes the results to his Instagram.

“These are definitely more sketch-pad raps, something to keep me entertained, something to share with people,” he said. “Because of the nature of an Instagram song series, the format is less rigid and there’s less investment. I’m not mixing and mastering it and going through the full process of completing it, so this does give me the opportunity to field instrumentals from producers I might not have done a project with. It’s good for networking and having fun, taking things to their fundamental base level.”

Artists of all disciplines are struggling during the Coronavirus—financially, of course, but also with the very nature of their art. For some, the pandemic is a direct influence. For others, their art is a distraction from it. There’s also the challenge of attracting and engaging an audience virtually, through the screen of a phone or laptop, and wondering about the relevance of it all. And then there’s the matter of motivation during a time ripe for depression.

“Today is not a good day for me,” said Barbie Angell, a writer, performer and storyteller in Asheville. “I tried to do what everybody else is doing and like ‘Oh, I have time to do some projects in the house and do some art.’ I’ve been trying to use art to make everybody else laugh and help everybody else through all of this, but I’m very high-risk for the virus, so I’m in my scared phase right now.”

Still, Angell is working up a Coronavirus-inspired piece for a Montford Park Players project next summer involving three other local women writers.

“When I sat down and wrote the things that I’ve written, I had to get it out of my brain,” she said. “I can do these Facebook-live videos and stuff, but not having an audience, I can’t practice this stuff and see what lines work, what deliveries work.”

Nina Kawar is a visual artist who works out of the Marshall High Studios. Normally a sculptor who works in ceramics, Kawar has used this time to turn back to woodworking—something she hadn’t done since college—and also writing poetry and drawing, and she’s picked up the guitar and begun singing again.

“I’m in a place now where I am slowing down in a way I needed to,” she said. “I think it just comes down to giving myself the permission to create without having the pressure of money. There’s something in the freedom that we have right now without the pressure of even knowing where we’re going to go from here, as far as our businesses or art in general is.”

“I feel like I’ve really been retraining my mindset in terms of my whole creative process,” Bursky said. With this time, this shift in my subconscious and creative flow, it’s really significant. Moving forward, my process is going to stem from a much healthier place and I can even tell that in the stories I want to make right now, because it all has to do with joy and that process of inner healing and coming to a place of transformation.”

Matt Peiken, BPR’s first full-time arts journalist, has spent his entire career covering arts and culture.
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