Sometimes the turning point in a crisis is having a chance to express yourself. We know about the protests. What about art?

Referring to the artistic impulse, David Byrne of the Talking Heads once said, “Sometimes it’s a form of love just to talk to somebody that you have nothing in common with and still be fascinated by their presence.”

Maisha Azmir of Hudson hadn’t seen her school friends since the middle of March, but Monday she watched as her painting bearing their likenesses was affixed to the wall as part of a new mural across from Bliss Towers. Azmir is one of eight students who participated in the mural project, led by Bridget Smith and Louise Smith for the Hudson City School District’s afterschool Extended Learning Time program.

The mural is a mosaic of stylized self-portraits intended to be a window into the inner lives of the student artists and a mirror of the Hudson community, said Bridget Smith, a literary specialist with the Hudson Central School District. That is the very definition of art.

The group began working on large-scale self-portraits for the mural just a week before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered school buildings and moved all classes and extracurricular activities online. Louise Smith delivered supplies, purchased with a grant from the Hudson Arts Emergency Fund, to each student’s home so that they could continue their paintings. Isolated in their homes, the students chose to keep meeting virtually to continue their dialogue, and the weekly sessions became a source of inspiration and support.

Across the country, a majority of people in self-quarantine are playing or listening to music, not binge-watching old TV shows as you might think. Art opens the doors of equality and security. Art enables the creators to draw strength from their environment or their deepest inner minds. It’s the form of love of which Byrne speaks. The students behind the mural might have nothing in common before the pandemic, but their presence, working together, created some fascinating work.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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