Updated: Apr 14
“Paintings to be exhibited, dyed papers ready to be used, frames ordered from Ikea, tickets booked; I was all pumped up and prepared for a jam-packed April. I was excited to host my travel bud coming from NYC and then travel to LA and Denmark for art exhibitions were on my card for a while now,” says Dutch artist Tessa Maagdenberg, in her online Zoom session with VAWAA. She is a visual artist who works on paintings, collaging, and mono-printing in her studio in Scheveningen, The Hague.
Much was she looking forward to these experiences, little did she know that ‘all dressed and nowhere to go’ would come her way with the spread of COVID- 19. The artist says, “Halfway through March came the instructions of social distance, stay-home directives, and isolation.”
Canceled travel, shuttered studios, rescheduled exhibition!
And for the first time, each one of us across the globe (present in the session) related to the above situation. A dog person or a cat lover, a beach bum, or a mountain hiker, the virus affected us regardless. In a candid conversation with Tessa on a 90-minute virtual apprenticeship on VAWAA, I transported myself to her art studio, connected with people from across the globe, learned a new skill, and shared laughter over paper cuttings and brush strokes.
“The lockdown made me reconnect with my art. I realized that it was long that I created a new piece. Since the beginning of the year, I have been busy with emails, participations, and accounting for my exhibitions and hosting apprenticeships.” The artist says that she felt fortunate for being able to spend more time in the studio now and creating new art. “My studio is on the ground floor of my house, and I can continue creating art, virtually exchange skills and experiences with people without traveling,” says Tessa.
Trying hard to adjust me to the homebound lifestyle, I came across VAWAA and the online connections with the artists that they were offering. I immediately enrolled myself for an afternoon art brainstorming session. With artists like Maagdenberg and others opening their studio doors to the internet, we can still travel, engage, and indulge in enjoying, learning, and unlearning. “Despite the lockdown physically confining me, virtual platforms like Instagram and Zoom have helped me share my skills with people. Additionally, I learned new skills from other artists and also sold some of my works to friends and connections,” shares the talented Maagdenberg.
Maagdenberg’s art brainstorming session was more than a mere exchange of skills. She shared her part of the lockdown story, toured us through her studio showcasing her art, some ‘good’ and a few which she called ‘not so great.’ Maagdenberg shared how brainstorming art helped her feel healthy and maintain sanity in the present times. “With no art and no travel, I would have been cranky,” she added.
My connection with Tessa over art gave me a much-needed break. The 90-minute session helped me overcome the melancholy of being within the home boundary in a new country.
Virtual reality has made transporting to a new destination accessible. But with VAWAA and these online sessions, you are not only supporting the travel industry and artists but also disconnecting from your realm. While the idea of virtual skill exchange might not sound new, they are essential in the present times.
Escape into a new place with a new travel buddy, unlearn and learn, disconnect and connect, heal yourself with art.
And that’s how I found my travel bud, Tessa Maagdenberg.
Dutch artist Tessa Maagdenberg, in her online Zoom session with VAWAA
Whether it’s an indigo dyeing from Vietnam or martial arts from Indonesia, embrace it to step out of the known.
And this time, it’s not a ticket to a destination but a link from your home to newer connections, interactions, and more.