Postcards From The Pandemic: Cleveland Heights Native Waiting To Come Home

Picture of artist Madalyn Stefanak holding her drawing of blues musician Howlin' Wolf [Madalyn Stefanak]
Artist Madalyn Stefanak with her drawing of blues musician Howlin' Wolf [Madalyn Stefanak]
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After spending nearly three years on the road as a production assistant for The Wood Brothers band, Madalyn Stefanak was ready to make a change. After she completed her final tour with the group, she was going to move back to Cleveland from New York City to resume her studies and focus her attention on her freelance art career.

The coronavirus changed Stefanak’s plans. The tour was canceled due to COVID-19, leaving Stefanak without her main source of income, her college plans in flux and unable to return home. 

Stressful Times

Everything definitely changed. I don't think I've ever been that stressed in my life, and I had just finally felt like I had maybe made a good plan.

I'm still in my early 20s and things started to fall together pretty easily so that the change definitely caused huge amounts of stress.

For all of my coworkers out on the tour, it was just the weirdest thing anybody had ever experienced in that industry.

Having just made all of these plans to flow right out of that job and into school was just really depressing, but I think I'm a bit better off than a lot of people.

Picture from Madalyn Stefanak's window in New York City [Madalyn Stefanak]

[Madalyn Stefanak]

Life in New York During the Pandemic

I live in Astoria and a couple of the bordering cities are really bad, but we don't see it that much. I stay in my apartment a lot.

I obviously don't go anywhere other than the grocery store once about every week and a half.

It's kind of weird to see everything happening on the news but just be isolated within my own apartment.

The weird thing is that I am finally meeting some of my neighbors. Everybody's always really friendly in New York, but especially now there's a lot more connection with my neighborhood.

Picture of Madalyn Stefanak drawing [Madalyn Stefanak]

[Madalyn Stefanak]

Turning to Art

I work out of my small studio space in my apartment, doing mostly graphite and charcoal, portrait drawings and some poster and album artworks for a few different bands.

I have always made art and kind of built this community before this. People actually have been reaching out to me, knowing that I'm a freelancer.

They have a salary and they've asked me what they can buy and what they can do to help.

It's been really awesome to see that that I have built this community and that it's so big and welcoming. Everybody wants to help artists right now because I think artists are often helping people in return in times of crisis like this.

Picture of Madalyn Stefanak's portrait of Thelonious Monk [Madalyn Stefanak]

Madalyn Stefanak's portrait of Thelonious Monk [Madalyn Stefanak]

An Opportunity to Expand

I typically just make a piece of art and find an owner for it. I work doing mostly commissions, but now I've been making prints of my work and selling them, which is a new thing because people are showing a lot more interest.

I don't even have enough pieces so I have been working with a local printer in Brooklyn to do that quickly.

Picture of Madalyn Stefanank's portrait of Johnny Cash [Madalyn Stefanak]

Madalyn Stefanank's portrait of Johnny Cash [Madalyn Stefanak]

Lessons Learned

I thing I would take away as an artist and as a person is to be really gentle with myself and not try to be too productive. If I am unable to be really productive to just give myself a break.

I think everybody's trying their hardest right now. There's a lot of pressure to create your “best thing” because you have so much time at home, but I think it's also really important to still give yourself a proper amount of rest and relaxation.

Check out more of Madalyn's art!

 

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