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Arts & Culture

COVID-19 From An Artist's Viewpoint

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Ramin Samandari

COVID-19 is affecting everyone, and in the world of arts, artists and art instructors are being hit particularly hard. Texas Public Radio spoke to an artist who is down, but not out.

Ramin Samandari is a photographer, portrait artist and teacher of photography. His Magical Realism photography studio dates back to the days of film developing. He’s moved on to digital photography but remembers the magic of watching images appear slowly on paper in the darkroom.

"Chemical alchemy happens in the dark room. So, that's the magic part," he said.

He also teaches photography at his studio, which is at the Blue Star Art Complex, and elsewhere.

"I teach at the Southwest School of Art as an adjunct, and we basically got cut. Classes got canceled," Samandari said. 

His part-time status means that lack of work hits where it hurts: a big cut in pay.

"Under normal circumstances, being an artist, it has its challenges for sure," he said.

But the age of COVID-19 is not “normal circumstances.” People who normally would come to the studio to pose or for classes are just gone.

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Credit Jack Morgan | Texas Public Radio

"Commission work — which I do quite a bit to make a living — are, for the foreseeable future, dried up," he said. 

Unlike some artists, he has health insurance through University Hospital's CareLink program, and his ability to use it is based on a monthly fee. But what happens if he can't afford that fee?

"Well, like everything else, if you don't pay it, it gets canceled," he said.

Zooming out, the picture sounds pretty stark for Samandari and other artists, at this point. Still, he is optimistic.

"I'm a student of history, and I have some medical background,” he said. “I was a pre-med student when I was in college. It will pass." 

In the meantime, he encourages us to remember the artists.

"There's plenty of ways that they can support their favorite local artist. They can still buy art," he said.