Pandemic painting provides calm for Guelph artist

A tribute to the front line workers, “Protecting Us” hangs at the University of Guelph

For visitors to the University of Guelph, a new art installation provides support for medical staff.

The Guelph artist Natali Baird created the painting “Protecting Us” in March as a tribute to the front line workers and is thrilled that it has found a home at the university.

“I wanted it to be in a public place where people could see it. And I’m so glad it’s there, ”said Baird.

Baird decided to use her craft to recognize the exceptional efforts of those who worked in the healthcare sector during the pandemic.

“This piece was born out of a desire to recognize and support our healthcare workers. I have friends who work tirelessly, feel defeated, and risk their lives. I felt compelled to do something, ”said Baird. “I just want people to see how much we value our nurses and all healthcare workers. You really risk your life. “

“Protecting Us” is painted on plywood and shows a healthcare worker in bright blue with hands carrying the weight of the world.

“It was difficult for me to hear about their struggles, so I tried to find a representation of their feelings that would represent the commonality of health workers,” said Baird.

“I started thinking about it in January. I got supplies in February and I finished it in March. Never have I ever painted on plywood. It was a little risky. That was just something I wanted to do and it was made possible by donations. “

Baird is grateful for the community support she has received since the painting was completed.

“I had a full-time job until last fall, so I had all that time and energy to devote to this project. I’d like to thank JL’s Home Hardware Building Center and the Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, ”said Baird.

“And I’m also grateful to my partner, Emory, who did all of the chopping and shredding work. It’s been a long process, but I really want everyone to know how much their support is valued. “

Baird’s love for art began at a young age and as an artist nature has always been her inspiration.

“I’ve been doing this since I was a little girl. Art is just something I’ve always loved, ”she said.

Baird’s new focus today is on the world of bees in her home studio.

“I made drawings of bees. Bees are so detailed but quirky, ”said Baird.

Drawing bees during the pandemic leaves her calm as she ponders their meaning in the world.

Baird is a graduate of Sheridan College and continued her education at the University of Windsor, majoring in sculpture.

In addition to painting, Baird is a glass artist who specializes in a technique called “flame working”.

She participates in judged art exhibitions and contributes to contemporary art galleries, and has a penchant for making wearable and wearable jewelry.

“I’m also an art educator and have been a practicing artist and volunteer for the Guelph Arts Council and other arts councils in the arts,” says Baird.

For Baird, art reflects the energy she feels around herself. During the pandemic, she says her art is critical to helping her get through each day.

“It was a very emotional time and it was very tough for many of my artist friends. For me, art helps me relax and it is meditative. I make art every day. “

Baird, mother of two grown boys, moved to Guelph from Toronto 11 years ago.

“There is so much activism and support here in Guelph. There are so many opportunities here and so much community spirit, ”said Baird.

“Protecting Us” is located outside the University Center of the University of Welfen.

For Baird, the project was an opportunity to give something back to her community.

“I believe our community sincerely appreciates the efforts and expertise of our first responders, and I see this project as an opportunity to express those feelings tangibly, to show them how much we value them,” said Baird.

“I just had to express my feelings in the world and in this piece. I really hope that all healthcare workers feel valued and loved. “

You can find more information about Natali Baird at www.natali.ca.

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