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  • Writer's pictureGri Gri Project

Filmmaker & Multidisciplinary Artist, Andrea E. Leland Covid-19 Creativity

As a multidisciplinary artist, I switch back and forth between the tasks associated with making and distributing a film, painting and working with clay.

During this time of COVID, I have abandoned larger works and moved into making small abstract works of art I call “Artcards”. I continue to play with color and mark making using acrylics, pen and ink and mixed media. The paintings are cut up and attached to cards that can be put in the mail. During this pandemic, galleries have been closed and art has been cut off from the viewer except virtually online. Participating in virtual online open studios has not been very satisfying. Alternatively, the idea that these small paintings live all over the world and can be seen and appreciated in person is appealing. There is a real freedom in making the work and a sense of this art being accessible, not precious.

Art in the time of Covid, a challenge for a filmmaker / artist. I had started making a short film about Barbara Crites, a citizen scientist on St John who had been photographing, documenting and cataloging underwater sea life around St John for the past ten years. I began the project in the spring of 2017 with the intention of finishing the project in a few months. Then IRMA / MARIA hit. Repairs, regrouping, and resettlement off island for a few months postponed the project. During the winter of 2019 – 2020 we were both back on island and sufficiently recovered to start work again. For one reason or another we put it off until March, and then COVID shut everything down. Finally, late May Barb and I were comfortable enough to meet, social distancing, to finish the filming. My challenge was to collect footage of her without a mask on her face and with me staying six feet apart. With a lavalier mic attached to my Iphone 11 Pro Max I was able to get the footage needed.

The advantage of making a film during COVID is that all of the post production could be done digitally via email, Dropbox, Vimeo etc. January 2021 the nine-minute short film was completed and ready for film festivals and beyond.

Artist Biography:

Andrea E. Leland is an artist who lives and works both in Petaluma, Ca and on St. John in the Virgin Islands. Originally from Quebec, Canada, Leland received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. For the past thirty years she has traveled throughout the Caribbean observing, participating in and documenting its culture and natural beauty. Residing both in Northern California and St John, USVI she has seen first-hand the urgency of creating films about the ocean crisis. Leland co-founded Every Second Breath Project, a short-film series that gives voice to (extra)ordinary people whose lives have been transformed by the ocean, who are doing something to heal the ocean and shares this with their community - thus becoming agents of change. Barbara Crites is a short film in that series that was made during the time of Covid. In addition to film, Leland expresses herself through the use of paints, pastel and mixed media.

Of her work she says;

The use of color, form, and texture are used to evoke a strong sense of emotion suggestive of the Caribbean spirit. In addition, the use of color and form creates a direct vehicle for my own self-expression. The work is active, packed with energy and suggestive of landscape and culture reduced to its essence.”

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