Opinion | Iowa arts provide a sense of community and healing during COVID-19

Art helps people to get a sense of where they’re at emotionally and help process life events.


Ryan Adams

The mural entitled “Falling Upwards” fills the south side of a home on Dubuque Street in Iowa City, Iowa on Friday, September 25, 2020. The mural, painted by Defy Studios of Minneapolis was commissioned by property owner Sam Stelter, a former University of Iowa student and Kappa-Sigma Beta-Rha member, who saw the mural as an opportunity to create conversation of individual experiences and the power of community.

Hannah Pinski, Opinions Columnist

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the arts have always been underrated.

In a time of chaos filled from COVID-19 and racial injustice, people seem to underestimate the power of Iowa City arts that provide a sense of healing and community.

Take for example the George Floyd mural ‘Falling Upwards’ located on a home on Dubuque street.

Having a painting displayed in the heart of Iowa City invigorates a feeling of unity and community that only art can do. While George Floyd serves a symbol of unity, the use of Hawkeyes colors and Iowa touch connects everyone in Iowa City as one community.

It allows the conversation of racial injustice to continue because it inspires individuals to share their experiences with others. Not only that, it also encourages listening which leads to better understanding and empathy which breaks down the barriers that allows us to connect better.

Even the UI Theatre Department is having performances that amplify Latinx voices and call attention to perspectives on traditionally marginalized voices. It’s a way to tell stories in a unique way that engages the audience with things from costume to songs that the news and print paper cannot.

For me, music has a  In one of my favorite speeches, Karl Paulknack says ‘music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feeling when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can’t with our minds’.

When we were sent home in March, the hardest thing was knowing I wasn’t going to be able to play in an orchestra for nearly half a year, and it was uncertain when we would ever be able to again.

My violin is the only thing that allows me to reach into my soul and connect and express my deepest emotions that sometimes I don’t even know I’m feeling. The music I make with other musicians is how I make sense of my feelings, and the bond that is created is one of the most powerful things I’m able to feel and heals me in a way nothing else can.

For months, I felt broken because part of me was missing. I was scared because the one thing that could help me make sense of the raw emotions I was feeling was ripped away from me.

On September 30th when our first pre-recorded performance was live streamed, I cried as I watched what I had been missing since February. The piece of my heart was missing had finally returned, and for the first time I finally had hope that everything was going to be okay.

And that’s what music does. It ‘allows us to move those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so we can express what we feel when we can’t talk about it.’

My purpose as a musician isn’t to play the right notes, nor is it to only play for myself. I’m here, and this form of art is here, to serve as a source of healing by touching the human soul and invigorating emotion that medicine cannot.

So watch a live-stream performance. Go see the mural. I can guarantee you, us artists are going to open a door to you that you didn’t know you needed to step through. We’re going to give you healing and community that the world we live in now needs now more than ever.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.