True Home: An Artists’ Exhibition Catalog Commemorates 2020 Home Isolation During COVID-19

As part of Gallery 114’s member show, True Home, running through the month of March, each artist contributed images of art that inspired, or simply comforted us, during COVID-19 home isolation in 2020. An exhibition catalog of True Home collects these images, pairs them with the stories in each artist’s often lyrical, sometimes poetic words, of why they are meaningful. The catalog can be viewed in its entirety on the Gallery 114 website (link at end of post).

Below, are my words, and the accompanying images from my nature journals, contributed to the True Home exhibition catalog.

When I was a child, sometimes on Sundays my father would ask if we wanted to go “for a drive.” My brother and I quickly put on our Keds, kissed Mom ‘bye, and jumped into the back of Dad’s truck. It wasn’t illegal then for kids to ride unrestrained in the back of a pick-up truck. We lived on an island where the speed limit was 20 miles per hour on the narrow roads that needed to be “oiled” every year to tamp down the dust. I’d sit on a wheel well, holding onto the side rail, breathing in the scent of eucalyptus and sea salt as the wind whipped and tangled my hair.
I enjoyed Sunday rides, but they were accompanied by my disappointment in the lack of a destination, the absence of an “Are we there yet?” There was no there; only the journey, while scenic wonders sped by like projections on a green screen.
As an adult, I still prefer destinations, and setting goals. I enjoy seeing a project through to completion, and the sense of satisfaction it brings.
Enter 2020; the Lost Year. The year of setting goals, only to see them smashed against the rocks of COVID 19, and then washed out to sea. I ponder, along with the rest of the world, What will the future bring?
2020, the year of the journey without a known destination.
I’ve come full circle, back to the Sunday drives of childhood: a passenger of my own life, with the pandemic virus driving the truck.
But I’ve also returned full circle to the wonderment of Nature I had as a child.
Last year, before the pandemic, I began nature journaling. Originally, it was intended to focus my drawing practice in a consistent manner. During the pandemic, it has become a life-line to the world around me, a connection to something grander, and more enduring than myself. I find comfort and meaning watching a wildflower blossom, meeting a scrub jay at the same place several times a week, or seeing a bald eagle hunt over the Willamette River to feed its nesting young. The journals differ from my studio work. They are a personal, illustrated record of these uncertain times.
During the pandemic, my husband and I go for drives, stopping at wetlands or wildlife reserves. He takes his camera. I take my field kit, and make watercolor sketches of whatever presents itself: Sometimes flora, other times fauna. Oftentimes, birds. And while I paint, I allow the wind to whip and tangle my hair.
Julianna Paradisi

Be sure to click on the True Home exhibition catalog link on our website to view the words and images of my colleagues. True Home is an online-only exhibition, and can be viewed on Gallery 114’s website.