San Jose artists reflect on pandemic life in new art exhibit

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A new art exhibit has arrived at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) featuring numerous artworks from local artists. 

The City of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) commissioned artworks from 77 different local artists —  titled “Holding the Moment” captures local artists’ interpretations of life during the coronavirus pandemic and challenging times 2020 has brought. 

“The inspiration, ‘Holding the Moment,’ started in March shortly after we all received the shelter-in-place order,” said Mary A. Rubin, senior project manager for the San Jose Public Art Program. 

“We know that our arts community, like so many sectors were hard hit and we knew that our arts community was one of those most hit,” Rubin added.  “Not only financially but just in terms of lost jobs.”

The OCA’s Public Art Program partnered with SJC to host the art exhibit which will be displayed in the Terminal B Arrivals Hall through May 2021. 

A jury of prominent Bay Area artists and art professionals reviewed 327 submissions from local artists and picked a total of 96 artworks. 

The artworks will be grouped into six parts and each artwork will be showcased for five weeks. 

“With this artwork at the airport, we really appreciate it being here because not only does it provide the opportunity for the artist that did this work, but it also shows San Jose’s commitment to inclusivity,” said Keonnis R. Taylor, public information manager for Mineta San Jose International Airport. 

“It’s a seven-month exhibit and it’s rotating so each month we’ll have a new installment of artwork.”

“And it’s available and accessible to people not only in the airport who are able to travel at this time but also it’s available virtually for people who are not able to visit online,” Taylor added.

The city awarded $2,500 to assist selected artists for their artwork to help them financially during difficult times. 

“Our top level goal with the project was to recognize the value of our local artists and what they contribute to the community and certainly that included financial support,” said Rubin.  “But it also is about valuing their perspectives, the way they see the world, the unique way they frame things, and presenting that back to the community.”

“Typically artists have a way of framing things and seeing the world that can touch us, it’s less intellectual and more emotional,” Rubin added.

For local artist Natalya Burd, the opportunity to display her artwork for people of different backgrounds was something she couldn’t pass up. 

“For me it was a wonderful opportunity not only financially … and financially of course, it was great because during the pandemic my shows were put on hold, financially it was very difficult to put ends together,” Burd said.

“To receive $2,500 it’s a wonderful, wonderful gift.”

Since arriving in San Jose 19 years ago, Burd tells KRON4 News she loves the diversity within the community which can also be found through local art. 

“I think it’s so wonderful because the diversity creates different points of view, people bring their own cultural experience and they share it,” said Burd. 

“It’s just great, you can talk, you can share your experiences … I personally really enjoy it,” she said.

A Russian native herself, Burd earned several art degrees in her homeland and eventually ventured out to the U.S. where she received her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Washington, Seattle. 

For the exhibit, Burd says she submitted her acrylic, iridescent painting titled “Space Between” — in hopes her art piece brings observers peace amid challenging times. 

More of Burd’s work here.

“It’s kind of helped me to find my peace inside of me and I hope people during the pandemic people will look at that and feel like it’s all temporary … my hope is that you will come to this permanent feeling of infinite space and peace inside of you,” she said.

“That’s why we create artwork just to bring part of our soul and hopefully somebody will connect and kind of understand that, it’s a dialogue, and it’s a dialogue through the artwork,” Burd added.

With the exhibit work right now at the airport, people have an opportunity from different places to come and stop and hopefully people will look at it and find something in common.

Throughout the seven-month exhibit, the OCA will post the artworks on Instagram and Facebook.

You can also take a virtual tour of the entire collection on through the OCA website.

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