Art in Isolation: Creativity in the Time of COVID-19

In one of Rania Matar’s images, friends Minty, Kayla, Leyah and Layla pose within the frame of a large window. The Beirut-born, Boston-based photographer took this shielded shot during a socially distanced visit. The photo is also part of Art in Isolation: Creativity in the Time of COVID-19, a new exhibit from the Middle East Institute. Art in Isolation speaks for itself. Around the world, artists turned to their creations to navigate days, weeks, or months of lockdown. Many turned to new mediums, unable to access traditional studios or materials. Recognizing this reality, MEI put out a call for art made by Middle Eastern artists in response to the pandemic. After receiving more than 200 submissions, local curator and arts professional Laila Abdul-Hadi Jadallah selected 54 works from 39 artists, all in different stages of their careers. Matar’s socially distanced photos are on display alongside various other photographs, paintings, and video diaries; sculptor Athar Jaber contributed “A Mask for Life,” a marble sculpture of a gas mask. Together, these artists represent 15 countries of the Middle East, including Algeria, Palestine, Sudan and Yemen. The exhibition also captures the various ways creatives experienced the challenges of COVID-19. The online exhibition is available at www.mei.edu/art-gallery through Jan. 29. Free.