Artist and designer Nilou Moochhala began a daily drawing practice when the pandemic struck. Quick, abstract sketches using vivid colors and expressive mark-making gave her a way to capture her state of mind, to take the measure of living under lockdown. This spring, she will create a new series of drawings in the same style in response to stories collected from others in Arlington. As part of her residency, she will ask: “how have you experienced the COVID-19 pandemic?” through both one-on-one interviews and an online survey.
The new drawings will be an artistic response not a literal representation; with permission from interviewees, all collected accounts of life in Arlington during these unprecedented times – shaped by rising social justice movements as well as a life-threatening virus – will be preserved in Robbins Library’s COVID Archive. Our goal is to offer a vivid and authentic glimpse of the diverse experiences of people who live or work in the town.
Moochhala will use a combination of these new drawings and her original sketches to create an inviting space for peaceful contemplation in Menotomy Rocks Park. The drawings will be printed on fabric and turned into “meditation flags” suspended in a circle – a format inspired by Buddhist and other traditions.
“I want to offer a tranquil place to pause and reflect on these chaotic times,” Moochhala explains. The combination of nature and art will have a special power to engage visitors. Moochhala selected a site in a pine grove with a beautiful circle of gathered wood; she is designing her space to complement this work of anonymous art generated by the community.
Interviews will start in March, and installation is expected June 1, remaining on view through the summer. Arts Arlington will document this special artist-in-residence project here, and we will post updates in our monthly newsletter.