Some artists depend on networking and social interaction to sell their work. But for now, travel to gallery shows and art fairs is on hold. And that means many creators are struggling for ways to make a living during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jean Roach creates and sells handmade jewelry. She’s been an artist most of her life, starting with beadwork.
“I think I really got into that while I was in college. I would do earrings to get the extra money. Earrings are always really easy to sell. And that was more the beads. And I didn’t start doing silversmithing-about 22 years ago.”
Roach, who’s turning 60, says her husband taught her about silversmithing. He’s from the Diné Tribe and she’s Lakota.
"When I first began doing the silver, I started out learning this the rocks, turquoise and stones and kind of that style from the South.”
But Roach says as her style developed, she incorporated Lakota designs and symbols.
“So you know the turtle is real popular all over the world so we do a lot of turtles. And then I add sometimes other parts of my creativity like a leather purse. Then I’ll put a little bit of beadwork and silverwork on there.”
Roach’s son works with her on the artistic process. He draws out shapes like a buffalo. Then Roach cuts them out of silver to add to jewelry. Usually they spend time on the road, traveling to markets and events across the country to sell their pieces. However Roach and her family are high risk medically, and catching COVID-19 would be dangerous.
“We had a big powwow in Aspen coming up in the first part of April and we were kind of depending on that.”
This year, their plans will change. For now, Roach says creating new work continues to be a source of inspiration.
“It’s medicine. Teaches you a lot of patience.”
Roach says since art shows and events are canceled for now, her immediate goal is to develop her online presence.