Artists during lockdown: Visual artist Clanny Mugabe talks pandemic’s impact on practice

Digital artist and painter talks to The Journal

Clanny Mugabe misses working with real paint.
Supplied by Clanny Mugabe
Clanny Mugabe, Art Sci ’23, is a second-year student who explores themes of decolonization, mythology, and speculative fiction in her artwork. Like many artists, Mugabe has struggled to continue creating art as quarantine and lockdowns continue in Canada.
“COVID-19 has affected me for the worse,” Mugabe said in an interview with The Journal. “I know it’s cliché but going out into the world helps me feel more creative.” 
Mugabe offered that in past years, her art was consistently inspired by the places and people around her. Naturally, quarantine has limited her sources 
of inspiration. 
“Last [school] year, I was going out and I could sketch buildings and people. I would bring my sketchbook every time I left the house and saw something interesting,” Mugabe said. 
“In lockdown, there isn’t much motivation to draw especially because I’m in the same environment. Who wants to draw their room over and over?”
Most students have been struggling with feelings of burnout and a lack of motivation as online school progresses. Balancing schoolwork and attempting to create art has been a draining process for Mugabe, 
who noted the frustration of not being able to complete largescale art projects. 
“I draw a lot, but I haven’t completed any substantial art pieces,” Mugabe said. “It’s really frustrating to feel like you’re not advancing in your art style or in the ways you learn art, especially since I had plans to take studio art classes this year.”
She was planning to expand her artistic range before the pandemic hit, but ever since the first lockdown, her work has been limited to primarily digital pieces. 
“I’ve been doing digital art for a couple of years, but before lockdown I had a good balance between traditional and digital art,” Mugabe said. 
Mugabe has also been struggling with the lack of resources to create art and not wanting to expend the resources she has in case of another lockdown. 
“Because stores are closing every other week, I can’t really go get new painting supplies, and I don’t want to waste the ones I have. I haven’t completed a lot of projects I feel proud of.” 
The emotional impact of not being able to create art as an artist can be damaging. By cutting off our access to the resources of normal life, eliminating studio spaces where art is created, and removing in-person environments where collaboration boosts creativity, COVID-19 has severely stifled artists. 
“It feels like my style and my skill is waning; I don’t feel accomplished because I can’t have a physical painting in my hands,” Mugabe said.
After lockdown, Mugabe is most looking forward to collaborating with other artists and developing her traditional art style by taking in-person classes. 
“I really miss being able to talk with other students, specifically art students,” Mugabe said.
“When you’re painting with a lot of people, there’s a lot of sharing resources, information, and techniques—that’s part of learning when you’re able to talk in 
person with people,” Mugabe said. 
Although Mugabe has capitalized on the events of the past year to flourish as a digital artist, she will be grateful for the chance to round out her skills once again. 
“I’m excited to practice traditional art again because it’s essential when you’re an artist.”

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