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Capturing the Creative Zeitgeist of COVID-19

The art world’s response to the global pandemic has been nothing short of inspirational. 

The motivation that exists, especially on the level of grassroots movements, is energized in a way that we haven’t seen for almost a decade – at least since the recession of 2008 – according to Alexandra Saltiel. Saltiel is the founder of Gallery on Pause, a platform celebrating creativity and artistic expression in all of its diverse incarnations. 

Since opening up submissions on the site recently, Saltiel has already seen an influx of art – fielding everything from art by children to professional photography. 

What are the submission parameters? Luckily for the artists and creatives who don’t have those descriptors in their official job titles, there are none. Salteil’s goal through Gallery on PAUSE is to capture the mythology of this unprecedented time through the creations of the very people living through it, without any filters on.

Read our interview with Alexandra Saltiel, founder of Gallery on PAUSE, below.

Untitled, by Kelly LoBianco via @galleryonpause

AZ: Tell us about the conception of and mission of Gallery on Pause

AS: The project was inspired by conversations with friends. When this all began I was really looking for a creative outlet and thinking about how we are going to mythologize this time – what stories will we tell about it months, years, decades and even generations from now. How will it be remembered and what lessons will we learn?

When I think about history, art is a way we look at the past. It’s a reflection of a collective mindset. I started these conversations thinking about storytelling about the human condition, the stories people were living, to create this mythology where we can learn lessons.

I was yearning to create as well, starved for connection and not as busy as I usually find myself. The inspiration for the gallery kind of came out of that soup. I thought there must be many people out there like me, and I began wondering what everyone else was doing and if these conditions were creating space for more creativity at home.

I started asking myself what are all the professionals doing, then wondering what are all the parents and kids doing? Is one of the silver linings of this crisis that it will lead to more creativity?

The recession of 2008 changed a lot of lives for the positive. People lost jobs and we saw a search in innovation and entrepreneurship, makers spaces popped up, people became thinkers and makers, and even Shark Tank pops up. You wonder how is everyone else surviving. Somewhere down the line in history we will look back at what art was made during this time. So I wanted to collect this art, now in the moment.

Instagram is a great platform for reaching a wide audience and the big picture for me was three fold. One is creating a stream of income for people eventually through auctions or sales, two is I want to create a global picture of what’s going on – the most beautiful thing that could happen would be getting more submissions than I know what to do with and the feed becomes it’s own living, breathing thing.

The art is a beautiful visual into this current tapestry that we’re weaving. It gives me hope to read these people’s stories, I see them as stories of resistance. I hope that when people see this art and reads these stories it creates a sense of connection for us. 

AZ: What is the criteria to submit?

AS: There are none! When I started this I thought about how I defined “art” and “artist”. We accept submissions form artist of all levels, ages and mediums. I hope to down the line have poetry, performance, I’m up for anything or anyone. 

I have two submissions from children currently and I look forward to hearing more from the kids. I’m interested in how people are talking to their kids and what their perspective is on the world right now. There’s an invitation to give a studio tour or pose with their art, but no one’s taken me up on it yet.

Part of the thesis for me is that anyone can be an artists and expression is an outlet that’s needed in a time when we don’t have many opportunities for creative expression. I think the longer this goes, the more people will dip into creative projects they might not have otherwise explored. 

AZ: What do you have in mind for potential future growth?

AS: It’s just me so far and I decided that this is a collaboration with the internet world. So far i’ve just been trying to grow the response and learn from that, and now I think as time goes on I have to figure out the best way to tdo things. I’m consulting a lot through friends in the industry. I’d love to have a physical book of this collection and use the proceeds of this sale to support a charity or give a portion of the proceeds to the artists. 

Collectively we are learning, day by day, that the capacity to create lives within all of us. 

Gallery on PAUSE is open and accepting submissions of anything from your kids’ home-school anatomy project to professional performance art videos. Find out more about the submission process and follow along with the Gallery on Instagram