Launch Creative Minds in the midst of Pandemic

By Kimmy Ma

March 16, 2020 was the announcement of the shelter in place order, which was soon followed by daily briefings and all the uncertain- ties have left families afraid and in panic.

There were many tragedies during the height of COVID, including the death of my close friend and neighbor. At first, I thought it was going to be brief, but before you knew, it was already the end of June.

The studio’s activities calendar was left blank for over three months. Art patrons were fearful to return. We all missed the hands-on interactions necessary to make art, and all the nuanced creative dialogue that could not be spoken through zoom.

Kimmy Ma is a Queens Chamber of Commerce Small Business Hero

Shortly after re-opening, more bad news flurried in. The music shop and restaurants next door had shut down, and for months, our small businesses were left with little activity. Subsequently, it was only the barbershop and me left standing.

The streets looked rejected and depressed. It reflected the anxiousness of the people. It was so bleak and desolate, you can hear the leaves rustling on the ground.

What kept me going was my faith, my passion for art, and the optimism and support from our art patrons and families. These intangible elements have helped fuel a purposeful sword to slay wretched COVID with determination.

The truth is my work would not be here if it was not for the art families and students, who shared the same passion. As a community, we realize the value of art education, as a beautiful sanctuary for our creative spirits.

Art is a lifelong companion and it teaches an important life lesson, that failure is just a series of experimentations on how to start over, and it helps carve the ultimate path to create something beautiful from a blank page and mistakes.

This taught me how to re-build my business. One phone call, email, and text at a time.

While perfection is unattainable it is something to strive for! As one of a few women owned small businesses in my neighborhood, I have championed art for over two decades, but it was not done without challenges.

Battling hostile COVID added an even more egregious hurdle to overcome. On top of negotiating the back rent with my landlords, the increasing cost of energy and sup- plies due to inflation, I had to pay my staff and keep the studio intact.

When we first reopened, there was a point when we had just one student show up to class. But we persevered and we still have a ways to go!

Students help paint a mural outside for Ukraine

One of our creative solutions was to make art outdoors during the summer. That really helped make the transition to returning more bearable for our art families during COVID, while still giving our students the opportunity to socialize and create art in a healthy environment. Our studio is a small yet bright spot where like-minded young artists can share artistic experiences and their love for art.

It is about time and we are ready to celebrate our creative voices once again with our student’s art show on Saturday, June 4th and Sunday, June 5th, from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. All are welcome and admission to the show is free.

For K-12, group, private, zoom or in studio art lessons, please visit our program guide at kimmymaartstudio.com.

To us, art is more than an after- school activity. It is means of self-expression unlike any other.

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