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Exhibit showcases feelings during the pandemic

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Hien Nguyen
Staff Writer 

“Inside Out: Emerging From Isolation,” an exhibition at the Claremont Museum of Art, showcases the work local artists have created during the pandemic which reflect their feelings about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pieces displayed include various media – from oil on canvas paintings to wood and ceramic sculptures.

While some artists used their art to mirror the current reality we live in, others aimed to spread messages of hope for a brighter future and create an escape from this far-from-ideal reality.

Anne Seltzer, who painted the acrylic on canvas piece titled “She Decided,” explained choosing this piece to be exhibited as it was a turning point for her to paint again.

“I felt discouraged during these times but turned to art as an escape and therefore created this autobiographical piece,” she said.

Similarly, Sylvia Megerdichian remembered how happy painting makes her feel and took inspiration from her series “Women and Masks” to create the piece titled “Comfort Zone.”

“When the pandemic hit. I had the idea of painting my women in masks but not the conventional ones we see everyone wearing,” she said.

Using various materials, including acrylic and collage in order to create layers and convey her ideas better, Megerdichian’s artwork encapsulates the initial figurative concept of her “Woman and Masks” series and linking it to the relevancy of the mask wearing as a safety protocol during these times.

“The concept was that women have a lot to say but they have no voice and that figurative concept turned into something more literal and relevant for the pandemic,” she said.

At 8 feet tall, Steve Rushingwind Ruiz’s “Burned Out” sculpture represented by the imagery of a burning matchstick made of wood, described his exact feelings about the pandemic with the appropriate title.

“I was doing another painting for the exhibition but it wasn’t conveying what I was actually feeling, which was feeling burned out and depleted as everything was cancelled,” he said.

Jane Park Wells’ collage piece titled “Hope/Belief” features newspaper clippings of world events overlaid by drawings of origami cranes – a symbol of hope in Asian culture.

“This piece is a continuation of my “Hope” series featuring paper cranes with the message of overcoming through this terrible time together and at the end of the day, there is still hope,” she said”

Named after the goddess of beauty and love, Sumi Foley incorporated pieces of silk fabric in her display “Venus.”

“There’s so much sadness and worry in the world right now and I didn’t want to add more negative energy so I made this piece to bring beauty to the world,” she said.

Picking the image of a bristlecone pine for its sturdy qualities, Foley wanted to convey the message of endurance through hardship and conquering any obstacles that come our way.

In contrast, Gina Lawson Egan wanted to bring playful qualities to the world at this time through her ceramic structure titled “Delightful Diversions.” The structure is made of clay material that she didn’t want to go to waste during quarantine.

“It’s really a statement about how I work and at the end of the day, I try to have fun with my art as it will convey the same to the final product,” she said.

The exhibition runs through Nov. 29 and will also be available online at the Claremont Museum of Art website.

Hien Nguyen can be reached at

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