Nine Florida artists passed their paintbrushes — with a toss, a drop, a flourish, and even a pineapple — from over 400 miles away. From Tallahassee to Miami, they sought connection and joy in spite of physical distance with their #DontRushChallenge video that has garnered thousands of online views and hundreds of shares in just two weeks.
The #DontRushChallenge was created by University of Hull student, Toluwalase Asolo, on March 22 as a way of connecting friends while in isolation. Ironically set to the song “Don’t Rush” by Young T & Bugsey, participants use the magic of editing to physically transform themselves from drab to fab within seconds after swiping their makeup brush across the camera lens.
The challenge has launched millions of responses on social media applications like TikTok and Instagram.
Tallahassee artist Quia Z. Atkinson was introduced to the challenge by friend and local art therapist April Fitzpatrick and they decided to co-organize their own video.
It was only natural that the included artists Missy Cooper, Jasmine Jackson, Kadija “Ausetiri” Christie, Briana Michelle Smith, Edith Juanah, Ntrlxchng Art and Myah Freeman, who added their unique twist on the phenomenon, not just transforming themselves, but also empty canvases. The challenge has provided a platform to share their work, even while quarantined.
“It warms my heart that we can bring a smile to someone’s face during this time, even for just three minutes,” says Atkinson, owner of QZ Design Gallery and video editor. “It also let people know about artists they might never have heard of, and already many are asking how to get in touch and buy some of the art.”
“Artists tend to paint in isolation, so I was fortunate enough to meet these individuals and use it as a way to start building community,” adds Fitzpatrick. “You have to find beauty in your brokenness, and turn your pain into purpose, and usually you find your purpose through connectedness.”
For Fitzpatrick, creating the video inspired her to return to art after a series of disappointing cancellations due to COVID-19. Her exhibit at the Historic Union Bank Art Gallery, “The Pineapple Metaphor: Expanding the Narrative,” was postponed on March 27.
“I had been working close to two years creating this work and planning this exhibit, and had made a lot of sacrifices of going without seeing family and friends,” says Fitzpatrick, who only had a small collection of paintings to choose from to include in the video since the rest of her collection still is hung in the empty gallery.
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