Wilbraham artist Paul Bloomfield’s Covid-19 series recently hung at the Amy H. Carberry Fine Arts Gallery on the campus of Springfield Technical Community College. The paintings were inspired by the early weeks of the pandemic and reflect the personal and collective losses caused by the virus.
The twin structure of the human lung became the starting point for each of work in the series. Bloomfield says the lung suggested a parallel struggle, “that we are side-by-side, in this together, but juxtaposed with the reality of suffering alone.”
Producer Dave Fraser spoke with both the artist and Gallery Director Sondra Perón to find out more.
Learn about the Amy H. Carberry Fine Arts Gallery at STCC, the gallery that hosted this exhibit, in a digital exclusive feature.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Artist Paul Bloomfield’s COVID-19 series was directly inspired by the early weeks of the pandemic. The twin structure of the human lung became the starting point for each of his works in the series. for Bloomfield, the lung suggested a parallel struggle that we are side by side in this together, but juxtaposed with the reality of suffering alone.
The COVID Series recently hung at the Amy H. Carberry Fine Arts Gallery on the campus of Springfield Technical Community College, and producer Dave Fraser spoke with both the artist and the gallery director, Sandra Peron to find out more.
Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: The imagery can be somewhat disturbing when put into context. Visual artist Paul Bloomfield’s instinct was to find some way to reflect the fear and the struggle many people felt throughout the pandemic.
Paul Bloomfield, Visual Artist: Not that we need reminding of COVID. Certainly, that’s not my intent. But this idea that we experience this thing together and hopefully that experience is sort of becoming more of the past.
Dave Fraser: Images of human lungs with droplets build from painting to painting, using colors, gestures, and patterns, the series allows the viewer an opportunity to reflect on the reality of our collective pain and suffering caused by COVID-19.
Paul Bloomfield: To help me process this just as a human and as an artist, to process this by doing something visual that would sort of help me deal with it, I suppose.
So, the droplets themselves closely resemble the actual look of the COVID molecule. And the fact that they’re delivered by air in a sort of contactless way through the air, like these droplets are…sort of mimics the the whole the whole way that COVID is transmitted. And so, the painting is almost like a sort of — sort of visual interpretation of how that happens.
Dave Fraser: The COVID-19 series hung at the Amy H. Carberry Fine Arts Gallery on the campus of STCC in March. The gallery features works by artists of local and national réputé, as well as student work.
Paul Bloomfield: I’m sort of surprised, to be honest, that I did so much. I didn’t, you know, as I said to other people, I didn’t realize what I was doing. I was just — I would do something, work it out, do the colors, the shapes. Ok, I’m done for the day, put it in a pile, and then the next thing I know, I’d have a pile of work.
And that started to build up as a sort of body of work, which I never planned it to be. I just — it sort of evolved that way. None of this was meant to be. I didn’t think it would be a big show like this.
Dave Fraser: Sondra Peron is an associate professor at STCC, as well as gallery director.
Sondra Peron: The COVID series is a time stamp. It’s a moment in time that is never going to happen again — or hopefully never happen again — in the way that it has and did. And for Paul, this is a very personal portrayal of the pandemic and COVID and the virus and representations of it.
But I also think his exhibition is a collective experience. You know, when people come into a space like this, they may or may not want to look at COVID in the way that Paul has presented it. But when you do, it is just giving you a moment to reflect.
Dave Fraser: Bloomfield recalls initial reports of COVID as being a respiratory infection that was caused by droplets transferred through the air. The lungs to him suggested a parallel struggle that we are side by side in this together.
But on other days, he saw the irony of being near people, juxtaposed with the reality and pain of suffering alone.
Paul Bloomfield: The work itself, because it used, relied on this idea of dots. The dots sort of ultimately sort of became a representation of how humans connect to each other.
And so really, despite the sort of awful and deadly quality of this disease, different kinds of relationships have evolved. We’ve learned to sort of deal with each other differently and and react with…maybe better than we did. I don’t know. Hopefully.