As she kneeled by a tree stump in Brittingham Park, face mask on and art supplies sitting beside her, Serendipity Stage couldn’t help but notice the change in atmosphere. Before the arrival of the coronavirus, the University of Wisconsin art student had painted two other tree stumps for Madisonians to view and appreciate.
The stump painting had been “super social because I was right out in public doing art,” she says. But on that recent day at Brittingham, in the midst of a pandemic, “I felt like I was being observed rather than interacted with.” Instead of being able to connect with the random passersby, everyone around her was biking or walking with a mask on, speaking only to the people they knew directly and steering clear of anyone else.“Stumped” project has had to evolve. In place of face-to-face interactions, the 20-year-old has received messages on social media from friends and acquaintances expressing their appreciation for her art. “It’s a way to sort of socialize in an indirect fashion,” Serendipity says.
Born in St. Croix Falls, Wis., Serendipity is a rising junior at UW-Madison pursuing a bachelor of fine arts in painting and printmaking plus a certificate in dance and movement therapy. She is a deep thinker with an acute self-awareness that sustains her work and makes her an artistic force to be reckoned with.
Staying true to her propensity for introspection, Serendipity has been using art to communicate with herself during quarantine. “Art was kind of this outlet to go somewhere and work through my own feelings,” she says.
As a result of her contemplation, she created a three-piece series called “Inner Esoteric,” with each piece being a representation of her evolving relationship with different aspects of herself during the pandemic.
The first piece, “Something Is Wrong (The Body),” is based on her relation to her body.Conduit (The Spirit),” represents the exploration of Serendipity’s spirituality during social isolation. Love Letters (The Heart),” came from Serendipity’s thoughts about matters of the heart and specifically her relationships with the people in her life.
And although people can’t physically go to galleries, this has only made Serendipity more steadfast in her belief in the importance of public art that allows for “an open field for discussion and contemplation,” such as murals and even drive-thru art exhibitions like the one at Garver Feed Mill.
“Everyone’s perspective and the global perspective has just really been given a whirl. I’m intrigued to see how it affects not just the course of history but art history in particular. I hope that it’s more artwork that’s focused on mutual caring.”