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While there are no artists in residence at VCCA during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re collecting responses from a call for VCCA Fellows to share brief messages about what their world looks like during these strange and difficult times.

Newest messages are at the bottom.

Judith Baumel

Judith Baumel headshotApril 1, 2020

Last week I published an essay in The Common magazine online that talks about what it’s been like to be in self-isolation for three weeks. Good news is that my daughter, a doctor working in COVID wards in NYC right now, finally today got proper PPE. On Dantedì last week, a few writer friends in Italy and in the U.S. formed a Zoom book club to read Dante and Boccaccio together. I recommend my husband’s down-to-earth and helpful COVID-19 blog posts for The American Scholar. He’s an infectious disease epidemiologist and the author of the book Dread: How Fear and Fantasy Have Fueled Epidemics From the Black Death to Avian Flu.

Work Affected by Covid-19

I published a book in mid-December and my readings/signings starting in February have been cancelled.

Barbara de la Cuesta

April 1, 2020


I don’t comb my hair
or paint my waif face
or clothe my scant body
in colors that match.
Who sees them now?

I do care for this body
I wash it, and oil it for comfort,
eat seeds and nuts
and greens.

For it contains my words
That I still send, more fervently
than ever to those
I love.

To those who’ll never see
This waif face,
this uncombed

I care for these rooms that I’ve
made pleasant, these cuttings
in the window I hover over
Like nurslings.

Scrub this kitchen where cockroaches
come out at night
to celebrate crumbs on the counter,
an unwashed cup in the sink,
Scatter at the light.

Dust these bookshelves where
I preserve a few books printed in cuarto edition
whose creamy pages I sliced open years ago, to discover a language,

For these rooms contain
this scant body now,
which contains
these words.

Work Affected by Covid-19

As winner of Brighthorse Books prize for collection of short stories, The Place Where Judas Lost his Boots will have to wait for launch.

Hiram Larew

April 1, 2020

Waking up this morning, I realized that Poetry X Hunger, an informal initiative that I began 2 years ago which brings poets and poetry more deliberately to the anti-hunger cause, needed to issue a special call for poems about pandemic-related hunger. The hope is that such work will be useful to a variety of local, national and global hunger prevention organizations. The “Now More than Ever” call is posted on Facebook — Poetry X Hunger. Or, visit the website — Or email

Work Affected by Covid-19

Several readings at which I had planned to read as feature or otherwise have been postponed.

Carol Barsha

April 1, 2020

My studio is at home so I am used to working here. In this very stressful time I am grateful to be able to find solace in my work even though it has been sometimes hard to focus. I have found myself reworking an old painting, adding and subtracting over and over, which has proved to be therapeutic and liberating.

Work Affected by Covid-19

My exhibition, “Landscape in an Eroded Field” at the American U Art Museum in Washington DC, was closed 2 days early (on Mar 13 instead of Mar 15) and my upcoming exhibition “In My Meadow” at Gallery Neptune & Brown (also in DC), scheduled for April 25-June 6, has been indefinitely postponed.

Dan Jian

April 1, 2020

For this summer, I have made a plan and applied a grant to see ancient caves and Tang Dynasty mural painting in Dunhuang, China. Now I can only stare at the exhibition catalogs from Getty museum. Like many of us, I, too, have a hard time locating myself in the studio though I keep trying. I think the best approach is not to fight our anxiety; everyone is affected by this, although at a different level… I look at an artist like Dawn Clements and admire how she finds a way to have her art mirroring what surrounding her life – in a very non-assuming and honest kind of way. I seek the same quality in my current work. I believe in the context of a pandemic, any sensitive and humble gesture is, at the same time, a radical one. Now, it might be more relevant to record and to make, and they can be the same thing at the end anyway.

Work Affected by Covid-19

I have two national group shows, one local solo show, and one international solo show (in China), all affected by the coronavirus outbreak. All of those are postponed.

Robynn Smith

April 1, 2020

It is very difficult to concentrate right now, so I am splitting my time between smallish print projects that take a few days at most, and promoting Print Day in May, hoping to maximize the impact of this community-building event that is especially relevant in this surreal and troubled time. I invite everyone to make a print on May 2, whether it be a complicated lithograph, a potato print or a footprint in the sand. All participation is welcome and creates a link in a global chain. check us out on FB and Instagram, and visit our website at

Work Affected by Covid-19

I am the founder of the global action Print Day in May. This event connects artists worldwide, as tens of thousands make prints and post them on the first Saturday in May, all around the world. In this time of social distancing, Print Day in May keeps us connected and is needed more than ever. The event may be very useful to art educators world wide, struggling to get their classes online. Student participation in PDiM makes a great project, and might just light a lasting fire under art students as they see their work posted alongside thousands of artists and printmakers around the world. Please help us spread the word and spread the love., or our social media sites.”