Artist spreads awareness about COVID-19 through painting |

Artist spreads awareness about COVID-19 through painting

Emily Ness
Updated: June 07, 2020 11:22 PM

Art is a compelling expression of a community's voice. And for one local artist, it has been a tool to spread awareness about COVID-19.

Karen Savage-Blue has been painting pictures about the times for much of her life and has taught art for over twenty years. Most recently, she painted a piece for the American Indian Housing Organization (AICHO) on COVID-19.

The piece emphasizes the importance of social distancing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“I would like people to take away from it, of course the message of keeping your social distance and how that’s okay and also that when it comes to diseases, viruses—it’s not something new to Native communities. Diseases coming fresh into this country were very devastating to the Native American population and the thing about that is, it can happen to any human being based on our make-up,” Savage-Blue said.

In the piece, a door is painted within a landscape. Savage-Blue said this door symbolizes a gateway to the past. “I needed to draw back on previous events similar to this—previous pandemics and that research was a little heartbreaking. It’s pretty intense,” Savage-Blue said.

The piece also shows a bear walking through the sky, which Savage-Blue said symbolizes the medicine clan for the Ojibwe and Anishinaabe people.

“When I painted it, I was really trying to sew in different concepts—not just focus on one thing, but also pull in a historical aspect and then to bring that type of teaching, bring that type of learning from things that have happened in the past, up to today,” Savage-Blue said.

Finally, the landscape has water on the bottom, which Savage-Blue said symbolizes healing and hope. The bubbles rising up within the water represent life.

Currently, Savage-Blue teaches at the Fond Du Lac Tribal Community College. Her piece has been printed and distributed to tribes, tribal organizations, individuals and families across Minnesota.

More of her artwork can be found here.


Emily Ness

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