• MattBajor

How Wyoming artists can help fight against the COVID-19 pandemic


The current situation we are all facing is unlike anything most of us have experienced in our lifetime. The toll of the daily news of the virus and how it's being handled in combination with the isolation required is enough to whittle down even the strongest of us. Given that this type of scenario is not familiar to us and that lots of information being provided to the public is seemingly intended to fear monger as opposed to help, I would like to provide some ways we can take action as artists and creators to help our communities overcome this disaster in a real and meaningful way.

One of the most important aspects of human self preservation is the ability to think and reason about ideas and stimuli in many different ways. Everyone has experienced this, with an example being receiving bad news while in a positive mindset vs a negative one. It is much easier to let things roll off our back when we're in a good mood than bad. With that in mind, I encourage you all to think about what's going on in a positive way. I have been thinking about our current situation in this way:

We're taking additional time with our immediate families and loved ones to get closer while learning new things about ourselves and the world in a voluntary effort to keep our more vulnerable community members safe. There is no need to feel bad about 'wasting time' by exploring an idea you've had, learning a new skill via the Internet, or even deep diving into one of your favorite pieces of art or literature.


Once you are in a good place, there are many ways to help your community get to the same place. Here in our community of Teton County, Wyoming there are a variety of efforts that need assistance. Here are some of the goings on that will enable you to help right now:

**Important Note**

It is extremely critical that we do not worsen the situation in an attempt to provide help. Before embarking on any of these projects, please:

  1. Sanitize yourself: Wash your hands, wear clean clothes, use the first item of PPE you make for yourself

  2. Sanitize your work area: Do a thorough cleaning prior to beginning work, while you're working, and afterwards. This should include a sanitization routine for your area, equipment, tools, and materials.

  3. Work on only what is actually requested: There are limited resources available to communities at this time and so make sure that what you are making is in demand and will not be wasted. It is better to take time to prepare further than to prematurely build and potentially waste items.

  4. Be aware of the risks of this type of equipment. Our neighbors to the north have put out a good read regarding the considerations of this equipment here: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/medical-devices/activities/announcements/covid19-notice-home-made-masks.html

Have fun, be safe, and learn new things! With all this time, it would be a shame to not come out with new skills other than shopping for TP. Don't forget to maintain your physical distance when interacting with others!

Manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Community Outreach

As the media is reporting on everywhere, there is a shortage of PPE for our medical workers. Lots of institutions have put out requests for homemade face masks, face shields, and other types of medical equipment. While we cannot truly make medical devices at home, we can make devices that could be used in an emergency and for other non-surgical uses. Here are some ways to get involved here in Teton County Wyoming:

  1. St. John's Health Jackson Hole Community Mask Project This is a community effort to produce additional masks for use by patients and care workers at St. John's Health in Jackson. In addition to donations of medical PPE like masks, gloves, and face shields you may already have they are requesting hand sewn masks as well. If you're a seamstress or seamster looking to lend a hand, you can find more information here: https://stjohnsfoundation.health/program/jhcommunitymask/ If you'd like to take a look at the plans and see what's involved, here is the PDF provided by St. John's: http://stjohnsfoundation.health/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Homemade-Masks-for-St.-Johns-dated-3.24.20.pdf

  2. Request for face shields from Sheridan Memorial Hospital If 3d printing is more your thing, the Sheridan Memorial Hospital has requested a specific model of face shield that they will be able to use immediately. More information on how to contribute can be found on the Wyoming Makerspace Discourse chat room here: https://discordapp.com/channels/645105632881541131 If you just want to take a look at some of the plans, this is the model that has been requested: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4233193

  3. Letters, Photos, Poems There are a lot of folks in the community who are required to be isolated in places they would not choose to be, like the hospital and other facilities. Even their normal days are isolating, and with this emergency even more so. If you've thought of a poem, would like to share an idea or though, or have a pretty photograph, there are a lot of people who would love so much to share in it. If this is more your thing, St. John's also has a program for the residents of the Living Center. Send your card, picture, letter, poem, story, or otherwise to: St. John's Living Center C/O Connie Hansen PO Box 3067 Jackson, WY 83001

  4. Communicate with your family and friends After a couple weeks of isolation, you may be forgetting the world at large and getting lost in your world of art, literature, nature, and pets. However, this is not super healthy. Make a concerted effort to communicate and socialize via safe means. While a hangout or zoom is not nearly as fun as a beer on the mountain, it does provide the same valuable interaction humans need. Fire up Facetime and give Grams a call. She will love it!

Assistance for Artists

For me personally not a ton has changed in my daily routine other than a bit of reduced guilt for spending so much time in the shop. As an artist, I spend long hours alone fabricating, designing, and doing other things around the shop. I'm sure this is true for a lot of other artists as well, but one thing that is definitely making an impact is access to resources. With the festival circuit more or less cancelled, art fairs shuttered, and galleries empty, there are scarce opportunities for income. If this is a current or future concern of yours, here are a couple resources that can help with finances.

  1. One22 COVID-19 Relief Fund (Local to Teton County) https://www.one22jh.org/covid-19 One22 has made funding available to residents of Teton County, Wyoming that have been affected by the pandemic. Anyone meeting those requirements can apply (including artists) on their webpage linked above. These funds are intended to provide relief for those in immediate need of funds to help with household expenses that cannot be negotiated or deferred. For more information, please see their website.

  2. Paycheck Protection Act (Federal) https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP%20Borrower%20Information%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf This is part of the most recent stimulus package passed by congress. It is not currently active, but should be by Friday, April 3rd and can provide a significant amount of funding to small business, the self employed, and other folks in the art world. You can request a loan up to 2.5x of your total payroll, with all of it able to be forgiven if used on qualified expenses like payroll and other immediate business needs. There is information on the above linked PDF, but more will be coming out in the next few days.

  3. Economic Injury Disaster Loan https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance This is a federal government loan program that helps small business in the face of a disaster. Loans of varying sizes can be requested with a portion subject to forgiveness. While there are more strings attached than on the Paycheck Protection Program, it is nonetheless a valuable resource for those needing funds to keep the gears turning.

  4. Artwork Archive's List of COVID-19 resources for artists https://www.artworkarchive.com/guides/covid-19-artist-resources Artwork Archive has put together a list of emergency grants for artists and other resources to help the community through these times. There are a wide variety of grants available and I recommend you take a look through to see if any would help your personal situation. There are lots of folks looking to help artists and we shouldn't feel bad about needing a hand here and there.

Learning new stuff!

The most exciting part about this whole deal for me is that I now have extended, uninterrupted hours for learning. I find it somewhat hard in the normal daily routine to set aside time for an online course or tutorial, but now there are no other obligations! Use this opportunity to get good at something or to even just try something new. Here's what I've been getting into during these troublesome times:

  1. Rhinoceros 3D: Ever since building my first piece, I've desired to become competent at 3d modeling using a professional tool. I am now learning to become familiar with Rhino using the (recently) free tutorials provided by Flying Architecture. You can find them here if you're interested: https://flyingarchitecture.com/tutorials

  2. Grasshopper: Part of Rhino is a plugin called Grasshopper that allows one to design 3d objects using a code like language. This opens up lots of new avenues for creation and is seemingly the path forward in computer design. The course and tutorials (paid and free) published by Parametric House (https://parametrichouse.com/) have been giving me a solid foundation in GH and I've thoroughly enjoyed the videos.

  3. VRay Rendering: Part of 3d design is showing the models in a realistic environment. The most common way of doing that is using a rendering tool such as Vray to setup lighting, materials, backgrounds, and everything else needed to get a good shot. Due to the pandemic, Learn Vray (learnvray.com) is having a sale on the course that includes access to a Vray license for $80. It's a killer deal and the course is great.

Well that is all of the advice and information I have for you now. I hope that you all are enjoying this time for what it is, staying safe, and helping your community. I'm sure this will all blow over, but I know personally the impact of this will last a lifetime. Stay safe out there, keep your distance, and WASH YOUR HANDS :)

Information from this post was provided by David Maulik of Makerspace 307


Calla Grimes

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