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Painting your mantra workshop

A profile of one of the COVID-10 Creative Response Grant projects.

The Office of Vice President for the Arts has created a grant program that cultivates artistic engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Creative Community Response Grant is open to students, faculty and staff, in recognition of the impact COVID-19 has had on the entire Stanford community and the need for everyone to find new modes of self-expression, communication and connection. Grants are awarded on a rolling deadline until May 10, 2020. Several projects have already begun to take shape, providing the Stanford community novel means of coping with and even thriving in the COVID-19 reality.

An online painting workshop is one of the projects that bring the Stanford community a little closer even as people must remain far apart.

Painting your mantra

Sonia Garcia, master’s student in design impact and Knight-Hennessy Scholar, will teach online painting workshops. Photo courtesy of Sonia Garcia.

Sonia Garcia, a master’s student in design impact and a Knight-Hennessy Scholar, has felt firsthand the loneliness of sheltering-in-place for weeks on end. Over the course of her solitude, she has turned to meditation, journaling and, finally, painting. Throughout each activity, she has found herself repeating a mantra, “Live this day,” “Live this feeling,” “Live this uncertainty.”

“I recalled that one of my favorite Puerto Rican artists, PJ Sin Suela, has a song called ‘Live This One,’ with the same theme of letting go of worry, accepting the present simply for what it is and just living in it,” explains Garcia. “That’s when I started painting that phrase, ‘Live This One,’ with paint supplies and paper I had lying around my apartment.”

Painting the phrase in English and Spanish (vivelo) and sharing her work on Instagram, Garcia explained the concept to her followers. She offered to create and mail paintings for anyone who requested one, and found overwhelming interest in her project.

“People loved the idea and began suggesting that I teach others how to paint in their own homes. I thought this was a great idea because I used to host well-being paint workshops for students on campus. Now, I am creating a video paint workshop in English and Spanish where I can teach others how to create their own masterpieces. As a Latina, it was very important to me that I create something that my family and community back home could engage in.”

With support from the COVID-19 Creative Response Grant to buy paint supplies, Garcia will produce live and pre-recorded painting workshops to help forge connections in a time of ongoing uncertainty. “This project is meant to remind people that we are all in this together,” says Garcia. “I want to help form a new community rooted in self-expression, authenticity and acceptance.”

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