Positives from the pandemic

DAC Instructor donates proceeds to Black Lives Matter Fund

Popular DAC instructor Meridy Volz considers herself high risk for Covid-19. When the pandemic began, she knew to stay sheltered. “It was hard,” she says, “and it became very lonely”.

But, after George Floyd’s death, the long-time activist who proudly cites eleven arrests for civil disobediences decades ago, began a series of 18×24-inch oil pastel portraits depicting deceased Black artists and statespersons. James Baldwin was her first; five months later she has sold sixty unique artworks. While being interviewed she was drawing Barry White  (her 77th portrait) as the singer’s soul music played in the background. 

Each portrait is priced within a range — $300 to $1000 — and people pay what they can afford. Volz donated the proceeds from the first thirty portraits to the Black Lives Matter Bail Fund. Then, upon hearing about so many Black families in need, she now sends $500 checks anonymously through community contacts to people in need. “For example, one recently went to a grandma who couldn’t feed her three children,” the 73-year-old says.

“It’s a win-win. I’m sheltered in place anyway, and I draw four to five hours a day. It feels seamless. And I’m making a point that Black Lives matter. Black lives certainly have mattered in my life. Each of these people have contributed so much to our culture.”

Each drawing contains a brick wall and a sunset in the background. The sunset represents a life well lived, while the wall offers geometry and a point of view while in isolation. Her art has gone everywhere in the country, including ten to a bookstore in Louisville where Breonna Taylor died.  

Meridy also teaches five Skype classes a week for young people in Juvenile Hall, and she still does commissions. But right now her focus is this series. “I’ve always been an activist and it’s kept me going. My daughter was asking me, how many more? I don’t know where it stops, maybe at 100? I don’t know. In the meantime it feels like a really, really beautiful piece of activism.”

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