Home Space as Maker Space for Grounding and Healing in Uncertain Times

These responses reflect how members of the Howl community have participated in online spaces to keep the spirit of our art education programs alive.

“In March, I was hospitalized with Covid-19. The Isolation Station was just starting. Organized by Cynthia Powell, me, and some other folks, Darke Attoms, etc. The main idea [was] to create an image in seven minutes and post it on Facebook. I did not know this would become something that would change my work. Posting work without judgment! Spontaneous. Exposed as-is to the world. UGH! I had been hospitalized for a year with a surgical infection. Isolation was not an issue. Having the virus was just another health challenge that came along. I got it from my health-care worker. Hospitalized with the virus was like going into [a] pandemic prison. Inside was pandemonium. Outside the world was closing down.”

Drawings By Joel Handorff

The above quote is from reflections provided by beloved and longtime member of the Howl community, Joel Handorff. This blog post is dedicated to members of the Howl community who have found ways to stay creative and connected during these challenging times. Their work and words truly inspire us all and drive home how and why creative arts and makerspaces are essential. 

Joel Handorff: “I felt no competition and was quite amazed at the output.”

“The only materials I had were crayons and a sketchbook. I had not been to my studio in a year. At first, I began to sketch images of the virus, trying to visualize an unseen enemy that terrifies me. Life and death. Isolation Station helped me focus on the outside world. People began to post work. We became a community of artist[s] posting images, and it was fun and a challenge. The need to connect. The need to gain control over an unknown world. I felt no competition and was quite amazed at the output. 

“Since I was in the hospital for months, isolation was not an issue. One year with an E. coli infection, two months with Covid—I had time to develop my work, and it began to have several phases over time, following the series of events happening outside my rehab center—images of the virus, children at the border, gender, imaginary landscapes, spirit traps, race, and Black Lives Matter. I followed the progression of posts from Facebook. My only reality was TV and Facebook. No one could visit me.”

Drawings By Joel Handorff

“What did I learn? I learned to create art without judgment. Just let the images flow. Some were quick and direct, following the rules of Isolation Station. Since I was isolated in the hospital, I had time to rework some of the images, deepening their meaning. My new work has been influenced by the question of “What is Black?” I have a biracial granddaughter, Bella, age 10. Black Lives Matter made me see her life in a different way. It allowed me to investigate my own racism. I am so excited by Isolation Station. It changed my world. Gratitude.” —Joel Handorff


Cynthia Powell: “I figured everyone would have seven minutes a day to create and support each other.”  

Isolation Station began as a way to stay connected through art in a time when we could not be together. I have received notes that IS has changed lives. One person is going to art school, others said it gave them something to look forward to during the timeless days.” —Cynthia Powell

Artworks by Cynthia Powell


Darke Attoms: “The imperfections are what make it perfect.” 

“Quarantine was extremely difficult for me… I’m high risk, unemployed, and live in a 400 sq. ft. apartment. By the end of May, my mental health issues were out of control. By the grace of a dear friend, I was offered the chance to spend my summer in D.C. as a type of ‘artist-in-residence.’ From June to August, I had three months to pour myself into my art process and heal myself while at it. I am quite proud of what I created over the last six months. Quite literally art saved my sanity. Thank you Howl for planting the seeds of creation through all the workshops I attended. I used many techniques that I learned in your program.”

Artworks in progress by Darke Attoms

“This time sequestered has allowed me to experiment with multiple new mediums on fabric. I used everything from Sharpies, spray paint, fabric dyes, acrylic paints, bleach, fabric spray paints, glitter-metallic slick paints, acrylic sealant, nail polish, and coffee stains. Yet I felt something missing. I finally found the magic element: I had grown up sewing with my mom, doing everything from cross-stitch to hand-stitched seams, embroidery, buttons, small repairs, etc. I discovered what my signature style was…I refer to it as my “Frankenstein” handiwork—embroidery-inspired stitch-making designs with textile additions, sequins, silk ribbon, metallic threads, and found objects.” —Darke Attoms

Artworks in progress by Darke Attoms