Butler County woman starts #QuarantineCreative group to show artists’ work

A new Facebook group called the #QuarantineCreative has encouraged more than 500 artists and creative talents to join forces online during the coronavirus pandemic to share artwork, expressions and ideas about what they are working on while quarantined.

Participants have an array of talents from painting, drawing, printmaking and photography to baking, chalk art, rock painting, music and dance.

Jeni Barton, group founder and moderator, is a visual artist who works full time as the Director of Marketing and Communications for the College of Creative Arts at Miami University. She also has a background in arts administration and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Experience Design. Barton started the group on March 16.

“If something is causing me concern, I try to find any good that may come of it,” Barton said. “It’s my coping mechanism. So, I thought of all the arts that would be created during our time of ‘social distancing, and it gave me tremendous comfort.

“I’m studying Experience Design right now at Miami University, and it has me thinking a lot about shared experiences, and I thought creating a space for creatives to share the work they are creating during this time would give us a sense of interconnectedness and provide some inspiration.”

The group has grown to pull in collaborators from around the region and even other countries.

“There are clusters of artists from Butler County, Cincinnati, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia and New York but, we also have creatives from 10 other states as well as Australia and Italy right now,” Barton said.

She said it’s her first time moderating a group with more than a few friends, and it’s been wonderful to see so many different types of artists and creatives communicating and appreciating each other’s work. Barton said there have been more than 4,600 positive posts, comments and reactions within the group in one week.

“I have been overwhelmed by the amazing diversity of creatives posting on the page. We have had posts with visual art, dance, comedy, jewelry, furniture, magic, original music, makeup, storytelling, quilting and fabric arts, food, videos, opera, puppetry, origami, comic books, gardening and even people posting their creative spaces and art studios,” Barton said..

Members have also shared live-streamed productions, such as a magician’s show, or a princess party for kids.

“I think the biggest benefit that has come out of it for me has been a constant reminder of why we’re pulling together to fight this pandemic, and what we’re protecting. It’s also been a welcome distraction from this scary news coming in about the virus. My feed is flooded with brilliant works of art and live streams from musicians, dancers, poets, you name it, and it’s such a great silver lining at this time. And, for the creatives that have joined this group, I think it’s a shared sense of community,” Barton said.

One member of the group, Kate Rowekamp, is an artist and an educator. She serves as the director of education and digital content producer at the Fitton Center. Rowekamp also teaches art students at Thomas More University and Miami University Middletown.

“Right now, I’m in the spot where a lot of teachers are, where we’re switching to figuring out how to do things online, and I’ve been walking myself through what we’re doing in my printmaking class that I teach in person at Thomas More. I’ve been working through how to video that and do it step by step,” Rowekamp said.

Rowekamp said she has shared several different projects on The #QuarantineCreative.

“I’ve been posting pictures and videos of things that I’ve been working on, and people will comment and say they like it, or ask what it is that I’m using to make things. Especially right now, when we can’t be connected in person, it’s great to have those connections with other artists, so there’s still a creative and inspiring conversation going on,” Rowekamp said.

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