Sheltered at home, artist and art educator Meridy Beth Volz of Desert Hot Springs is busy teaching five art classes a week via Skype to boys incarcerated at Indio Juvenile Hall. She was placed at the facility for a pilot program called Art with Heart through the Riverside County Office of Education. Although funds have run out, she continues to teach with no pay.
“These kids need a lifeline,” she says. The level of anxiety has gone off the charts during the pandemic. I help the boys turn angst into art.”
A working artist in her own right, Volz works every day in her studio on a COVID-19 series of paintings — a continuation of her Warrior series of 16 paintings that she began when Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. “This entire series celebrates the power of the human spirit and is art for resistance,” says Volz, who won a $500 grant to “Keep Art Alive” from the California Desert Arts Council (CDAC).
CDAC and affiliate La Quinta Arts Foundation established a $50,000 Keep Art Alive fund to award grants to Coachella Valley artists and arts organizations who create thoughtful, inspiring, and relevant works.
“I use the figure as a vehicle for the expression of human emotions,” Volz says. “Color moving in space is powerful. I love intense color. The first of the COVID-19 warriors, titled At You, depicts a dark and ominous cloud on the horizon. In Retreat, with the figure behind a wall, the black cloud spreads. Then I painted Azteca, dedicated to my incarcerated boys.
“The next in the series is The Spin (detail shown above), with a figure twirling in one spot, behind the wall, virus spreading, sad expression,” she continues. “I am about to complete the next in this group. The great thing about teaching the boys on Skype is they get to see my work in progress in my studio. For just that hour, they get to experience art from an artist’s perspective, and they take inspiration for their own artwork.”
Visit Meridy Beth Volz online at meridyvolz.com