Southampton Arts Center on Jobs Lane in Southampton is one of the East End’s cultural hubs, concentrating on community and up-and-coming artists, along with appealing to the younger crowds with silent discos, storytelling events, and more.
So, what is SAC doing during the age of social distancing, and, what is Amy Kirwin, the whirling dervish artistic director, known for her joyful spirit and non-stop activity, doing to stay sane?
One of the things the center is doing, according to Kirwin, is a community art share. “It’s a virtual acquisition,” she said. “We put a call out to the community to get creative — the statement is ‘Art heals, get creative’ — so to take this time to paint, even if you don’t normally paint, or draw, or sculpt, take photographs, or just make things from items around your house. Empty toilet paper rolls!” she said, laughing.
“The idea is to see the beauty that’s around you,” Kirwin said. Participants are then asked to take a photo and send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org (there is no “arts” in the email address), with the artist’s name, the name of the work, where you’re from, and if it was done by a child, the age of the artist, plus an Instagram handle, if there is one. “Every day I post a few, and tag the people on social media if they supply their handle,” she said. “There’s no judgment.”
And that’s in line with the mission of SAC. “We’re all about community,” Kirwin said. “Part of our new mission will be ‘Community Building Through The Arts,’ which we hope to launch pretty soon, and that’s a big part of who we are.
There’s also a YouTube channel which features the art that’s been submitted. Those interested can find it at Southampton Arts Center at www.youtube.com, or see the virtual exhibition at www.southamptonartscenter.org.
“Art heals,” she said simply. “This is a time to let creativity heal. If you don’t take the time to observe and to respond to that observation, you’re going to go stir-crazy. You need to find the beauty in whatever your surroundings are.”
Not just talking the talk, Kirwin has set up a “creation station” in her house, similar to the stations during the Takeover! artists-in residence program at the center. “It’s half of my dining room table,” she said. “I’ve got a little easel, I’ve got a puzzle, and I have coloring book, I’ve been taking photographs. Even snuggling with my dogs, and taking pictures of them,” she said.
“But whatever you do — write a story or a poem, take a photograph, whatever — remember, you’re not just creating beauty, it’s a really therapeutic exercise,” Kirwin said.