A local woman is using her talents to display the stories of Winnipeggers as they navigate their lives during the pandemic.

Living with mental health herself, artist Lani Zastre was anxious about what the future held. Picking up her supplies, Zastre got to work.

“I live with mental illness, and part of it was really hard when the pandemic first started,” Zastre says. “I sort of retreated into my art and really used art as a way of coping with some of the changes that were happening.”

Zastre says that the pandemic has helped her focus on her own artwork.

“Over time I realized that I am probably not alone in this. I am probably not the only person that is struggling and I am probably not the only one seeking out new and better ways of coping.” 

Understanding that many others also were experiencing difficulties, Zastre began interviewing people, learning about their own experiences.

“All of us probably had some amount of struggle due to the changes and so I had this image in my head of de-icing a plane. I came up with the idea of de-isolating a pandemic.”

Through conversations and art, Zastre is discovering that many other people had their own unique takes on what is happening around the world and their own ways of staying optimistic. 

lani zastre

Now venturing into unknown territory, Zastre is sharing what she is learning from her own experiences and the experiences of others with an art exhibit based on her idea, calling it De-Isolating a Pandemic.

The exhibit, taking place on Friday, will be welcoming people to gather at a distance to see how others are handling the shared experiences. 

“I am super anxious, but that is ok; one part anxious and one part excited,”  Zastre says. “We really had to think outside the box.”

Moving from creating art in solitude to sharing her pieces on a Winnipeg building, the artist is hosting an outdoor art show to share her positive outlook on the current situation.

Using a projector, a Central Park building will display the artist’s work.

“I am going to exhibit the portraits that I drew, along with the written answers, quotes from some of the folks that were so willing and interested in sharing with me. I am also going to display art that I made during the pandemic, which is what I used to really get through a lot of the tough stuff.”

The art is being projected onto 329 Cumberland Avenue for the “come and go” style event.

“It probably will not really get started until 8:30 or at 9 o’clock (p.m.) because the sun has to go down a bit.”

Her show will have “no more than a hundred” guests who can set up lawn chairs to see the art and learn about how others have been staying positive through the pandemic.