During the Pandemic, Norwich Looks to Circles
The Norwich Historical Society’s recent pop-up exhibition is morphing into a mural and is headed to Dan and Whit’s, the general store that is the beating heart of the town. The mural, a sort of quilt, is the next step in The Community Circles Project 2020 sponsored by the Norwich Historical Society.
Over the past several weeks, Norwich townsfolk were invited to join neighbors in several outdoor painting workshops. Each participant was supplied with a small circular canvas and other painting tools, and asked to create an original work of art that reflected life during the Covid-19 pandemic, with a focus on these questions:
What brings you hope during this time?
What are you grateful for right now?
Who or what's in your circle?
According to NHS Director Sarah Rooker, 175 residents heard the call and responded.
One of those residents is Julie Kalish, who teaches at Dartmouth College and has lived in Norwich for 21 years. Asked why she was drawn to participate, she responded, “ . . . this project just felt so "needed" right now. Everyone I know is experiencing tremendous amounts of stress, fear, anxiety . . . and a certain amount of helplessness. This project is asking us to focus on all the things we have and the kindnesses that surround us every day. The community here in Norwich and surrounding area has been essential for me over these past months, as community members make efforts to support one another.”
Julie’s individual work of art (photo, above, circle to the right) reflects her appreciation of her neighbors, both human and bovine.
My "circle" has been very much about our local area - neighbors, friends, restorative walks in the woods ... the cows who live up the street and have no idea that the world is amiss. The Norwich Community Circles Project is a wonderful reflection of that reality and [referring to the original exhibitïon of Circles on October 9] it was especially sweet to walk around and see the works from the kids on that spectacular fall afternoon. There's an awful lot of goodness still to be found if we take a look.
Viewers were invited to respond to the October 9 exhibition by fastening additional circles to the exhibition fence with a single, descriptive word. (“Star-gazing,” says the chartreuse circle next to Kalish’s painting.) Rooker gathered these into a word cloud (photo, below) that will be added to the mural. “Lots of dogs,” she observed about the commonality of the circle subjects. The word cloud also appears smitten with walks, love, baking, and the object of our love/hate, Zoom.
And other Upper Valley towns? Rooker says the Historical Society has received inquiries indicating interest in sponsoring similar projects.
(All photos courtesy of the Norwich Historical Society, except one, courtesy of Julie Kalish)
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