Moments of Joy

August 1, 2020

October 11, 2020

Artists around the world are mobilizing individually and, safely, in collectives to help people connect, cope, and find health, information, and happiness during the age of the coronavirus. Artists have an uncanny ability to tune into emotions—their own and those close to them, as well as to tap into the general global zeitgeist. Coping with an international pandemic and public crisis is never easy. We often need to turn inward to get through the day when we are struggling to adapt to social distancing guidelines, deciding to wear or not wear a mask, and may be facing unexpected financial uncertainty. (The Sioux City Art Center requires all visitors to respect other visitors and the staff by wearing masks.) Turning inward is exactly the process artists go through when they make a work of art to share with an audience.

Moments of Joy allows visitors viewing selected artworks from the Art Center’s Permanent Collection to turn inward to find resilience and then to share ideas through conversation that sparks hope for the future. The arts are one of the most powerful ways for creating positive communication and healthy coping during any crisis. Art serves as a bridge connecting us one to another by bringing joy into our worlds, helping us to heal, to share stories that make meaning in our own lives and find meaning in the lives of others. According to the Center for ARTS IN MEDICINE at the University of Florida, there is growing documented evidence that art provides direct health benefits including an enhanced immune response, better coping skills and emotional regulation, as well as reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Viewing and making art works not only to improve the moods of individuals, but also bolsters a sense of community by promoting welcoming and inclusive spaces that encourage social and racial equity, enabling dialogue within and across groups, elevating underrepresented voices, and mobilizing communities by illuminating their needs and priorities—their dreams and desires for a better world.   

Even in the private space of an art gallery, extraordinary things can happen. Finding our personal humanity through the visual arts, collectively we can create a more humanistic and equitable world. The irrepressible David Hockney, whose silkscreen lithograph, Warm Spring, 1993, you will see in the gallery, is urging people to draw during the pandemic, saying during an interview with the Guardian Newspaper from his home in Normandy earlier this spring: “I would suggest they really look hard at something and think about what they are really seeing.” Although in near isolation, Hockney shares his images widely, saying that he gets tremendous responses from his viewers who “tell me these drawings offer respite at this testing time … they are testament to the cycle of life which begins here with the birth of spring … Idiots that we are, we have lost our link with nature even though we are part of it completely. All of this will end one day. What lessons will we learn?”

The lessons that Moments of Joy hopes to impart are simply the lessons of the heart—finding joy in art and taking that joy back out into the world to share with others.