It was last Monday when the City of Philadelphia made the call to order all non-essential businesses to close in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Like all other art venues in the city, Paradigm Gallery + Studio, 746 S. 4th St., shut its doors and adhered to the order. But Sara McCorriston, co-founder of Paradigm, isn’t giving up.
“We really believe that in times like these people really need artwork,” she said. “Even though it can be sometimes the last thing that people have on their minds, when you put it front and center it can be the first form of comfort for people.”
For these reasons, Paradigm has decided to work in collaboration with its artists to create special content across its digital platforms. More specifically, they’ll be hosting fun, virtual events for art lovers across the city and the world. These events will include virtual artist Q+As, studio walk through, gallery walk throughs and creative tutorials helpful for those looking for ways to create their own art.
“We’ve been working really closely with our curators and staff to digitally have more of a presence than ever,” McCorriston added. “We’re so thankful for technology and what it allows us to do in this day and age because I think it makes those personal connections, whether or not they’re in person more tangible and more felt.”
Paradigm’s publicist, Madison Fishman, said the gallery plans to use the coronavirus shutdown as an opportunity to create a more unique and in-depth way for art lovers to interact with artists.
“It’s super ranging and very special and never-before-seen, behind-the-scenes kind of stuff is what Paradigm will be working on,” Fishman said. “It’s to increase visibility at a time when a collector can’t just walk into the gallery, and I think it’s a little more dynamic than just a virtual exhibition.”
McCorriston said “it’ll be a more in-depth look at how we curate, how the gallery works and an opportunity to talk about the artists and why I’m so passionate about them in a much more real way.”
So far, the only event to date has been a virtual tour of Paradigm’s current exhibition, TEN, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of the studio. It premiered this past Saturday on Instagram Live. However, more virtual events are being scheduled, and will be announced on Paradigm’s website, paradigmarts.org. McCorriston said more events will be planned for the gallery’s next exhibition, Strange Delights, which opens on Friday and lasts until May 16.
“This exhibition will be a totally digital-from-afar experience,” she said. “We really want it to be engaging.”
McCorriston said that a big part of the reason for this effort is to keep collectors interested in purchasing art from artists so they can continue to make a living amid the economic downturn. Despite the store being closed, McCorriston is still shipping artwork out to buyers.
“Our job is to get artists paid by selling their artwork,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re still selling their artwork at the same rate we are now. We want them to be able to have the same expectations for us selling their work and getting them paid.”
McCorriston sees the shutdown of her business as an opportunity to have the public connect with the artists in the same way she has.
“We work with artists all around the world that for years we have developed close working relationships and friendships with,” she said. “Sometimes, we forget that we’ve never even met in person and so I think it’s kind of time to share that with the local community and the world at large in a time where everyone kind of has to connect that way.”