Stories of Social Distancing 1: Zachary Cahill

During this temporary postponement of FIA residencies and programs, we have invited former artists-in-residence to submit texts, images, stories and thoughts exploring how they are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; how their daily life or community has been disrupted; how they are dealing with isolation and the concept of social distancing; as well as how they are looking ahead to healthier and undoubtably transformed times. Thanks to all who have contributed to this ongoing series and stay safe.

Zachary Cahill, March 27  
FIA artist-in-residence, 2018 

Zachary Cahill, Deep Well of Sadness Flower

I am not sure I have anything to offer about “this moment”… it’s all so jarring. I find it hard to keep my concentration without checking updates to the COVID map on John Hopkins’ website. It’s hard to read… the bingewatching thing leaves me feeling unsettled… work is acutely stressful, even when the tasks are slight (and I’m lucky to even have a job and that is never lost on me), I worry about my friends and family, co-workers, doctors, the arts and really even something like “The End” … I have been told that won’t happen… but I have taken some comfort in recent years in working backwards from the worst possible outcome… so if considering the impossible thought of extinction is useful for combatting possible scenarios, then I don’t really view it as pessimistic. 
Running has been a balm, but just yesterday i heard the Mayor  of Chicago was considering taking that off the table… Really one of the few things that still holds and keeps me even during this tumult is… 

yep, you guessed it: Art!  

Thank god for my old friend. 
The day before the shelter-in-place went into effect in Chicago, Holly and I made a last ditch run to our studio to stock up on art supplies at home… my work itself hasn’t changed much… I was working on paintings and drawings of flowers before COVID came and I am still… it’s a long story how I got to flowers from where I was but I’ll share that elsewhere…  

For now I’ll share some images and this… which has also been on my mind:  

A plea amid the zeal/mania to find “opportunity in a crisis” (a phrase I’m hearing a lot lately) that we keep in focus that a crisis is also a time of misfortune, confusion, loss, sadness and devastation, and in our efforts to “save the world” and triangulate future success, we don’t blunt the enormity of what is happening to our friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, loved ones and the folks we don’t even know… that we can let go of some of the rosecoloured optics of enterprising spirit and hold each other in this vast moment of suffering, fear and grief… maybe I’m just saying this to myself and this is just me asking for help… I don’t know… be safe and love each other.