Social distancing and staying at home can be boring and sometimes stressful for people. People cannot avoid being isolated but they definitely can avoid being stressed.
Creative people may be able to have enough time to first have some novel ideas during a novel situation and to materialise their ideas into some kind of art works.
Rashmi Agarwal, an Indian expatriate, is a long-time resident of Qatar. She is well-known in the art circles and artist communities in Doha. An art entrepreneur, artist and designer herself, Rashmi has been using her time at home in her own creative way. She also has some pieces of advice for other artists on how to spend quality time at home.
Founder and president of the MAPS International WLL., Rashmi is a board member of Silk Painters International- SPIN, USA. She is also national chairperson of Qatar for Anti-Corruption Foundation of India and International Director at Human Rights International Federation of India. She carries professional degree in law and finance.
The artist believes that the times may appear to be a test but it could also be used in some positive ways and productivity. “People are living at home not by choice. They however have no other choice. We have to stay at home to ward off the coronavirus. We face both health and economic crises. The situation definitely stresses our minds but all is not lost. What have come will definitely go away and now is the moment to decide whether we own these times, or we disown these times.
Creating, learning, and growing artistically, Rashmi has kept the joy alive and it is her passion to bring healing, joy and beauty to others. “I have developed my own way of living during these days. I call it ‘My Time, My Way’. We need to look at the silver lining in the darkness. With all the extra time in our hands, we must go back to the things that make us happy. A crisis has now forced everyone to remain indoors and self-quarantine is not easy. Let this be our responsibility to stay at home and do all the things we always wanted to do but simply didn’t have the time to get around. Nowadays, I have started my new painting after long time. I have also started arranging my albums besides taking care of my beautiful indoor plants – another passion of mine. It was like a meditation and stress relief overall. I am not at all pressuring myself.”
The art collector, who also organizes art festivals in Qatar, believes there is a healing power in art. “Art itself is a healing force. Art is an ultimate form of meditation. It can work as a medicine. It can be an important tool in mental health treatment. Art is no doubt a therapy and it can de-stress you during the pandemic and resultant social isolation. My experience tells me that if you are an artist or creative individual, you will feel less stressed and have medium to de-stress yourself.
“Some researchers say that you do not need to be an artist to benefit from art therapy. Simply being in close proximity to art and being involved in any creative activities – drawing, colouring or painting – will have better results. It can keep people motivated and stress free.”
Rashmi asks people to use their hand in creating something. “Use your imagination. Try to have an idea in your mind and work on it. Then start putting the idea on a canvass. I think we need to explore an artist hiding inside us. Putting your inner thoughts on canvass or a piece of paper will have healing effects. We do not always need to have viewers appreciating our creative works. Primarily, we create for ourselves. We explore our emotions. It develops self-awareness and boosts self-esteem. People have been using art for thousands of years to communicate themselves. There are other medical benefits of art as proved by different researches.”
The artists sees the these testing times as an opportunity. “The social distancing phenomenon is going to end soon. If we are able created something artistic during this time – expressing our fears, anxiety or our expenses – we will have look at it later and remember the challenging time with some sweet memories.”
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