During times of trouble, people often look to the arts to uplift—or, at the very least, to distract. “It’s literally kept us sane and provided hope in the darkest moments,” says Kathryn Mikesell, who, with her husband Daniel, co-founded the Fountainhead Residency program for artists 12 years ago.
This uncanny ability of art to quell cacophonous moments in human history is, in part, the reason why Mikesell says the residency is pushing forward with its annual open studios event, Artists Open, amid the COVID-19 crisis. “Everyone I have talked with is leaning on the work of artists, whether it’s through the visual arts, music, dance, culinary, film [or] video,” she says. “When it became clear our May 9 event would be postponed, we decided to shift the effort and created Artists Open Online.”
Through this digital adaptation, which sprang up April 1, Mikesell says she hopes the artists will reorient people’s focus during the pandemic. “They have opened our eyes to other ways of living, histories from which I had no previous knowledge, and the simple beauty that surrounds us everyday,” says Mikesell. “They have influenced nearly every aspect of my life from how I view the world to how I connect people.”
The digital pivot is also making Fountainhead's resident artists' work more accessible and approachable. “Digital platforms let artists share their stories in deeper, more compelling ways,” says Mikesell. “You learn about their work in their own words filled with expression and you see their body language. Your understanding of the work and connection to it is taken to a whole new level.”
As part of spreading these artists’ explorations to a digital audience, during this uncertain time, Cultured is teaming up the Fountainhead Residency. We will be sharing teasers of four resident artists’ intimate digital tours on our Instagram and Facebook pages, beginning Monday, April 20.
“My hope is that people will continue to value artists once we’re through these challenging times and find new ways to support them,” Mikesell says.