COVID-Fueled Creativity

Westport magazine, November 2020

Katie Craymer modeling one of her knitwear designs. Shot by Chris Craymer.

Silver linings… everyone began searching for them once the coronavirus bulldozed life as we know it and left us to gradually reassemble fragments into some semblance of a satisfying existence. Many relished the uncluttered calendars, leisurely family time, Netflix binges, sleeping in, working in PJs. Others found the pause button triggered by the pandemic meant more time to create and more emotion fueling their creations.

            Photographer Jerri Graham partnered with the Westport Museum to create a living history of the pandemic through photos of Westporters on their front porches, unmasked. “In an effort to remain connected as a community, our mission is to show our faces to our neighbors,” says Graham, whose “Westport in Focus” portraits will be archived “so future generations can see we survived, thrived, and maintained our humanity as a town in this unprecedented time.”

Photographer Jerri Graham

Larry Untermeyer comments, “I can’t complain. I’ve been lucky in my life in many respects. I’ve twisted through the forest and made it through. A lot of my friends didn’t.”

Larry Untermeyer, shot by Jerri Graham for Westport in Focus

In August, as many businesses were going under, Graham made a bold move and decided to open a photo studio in Westport, at 18 Riverside Avenue. “The studio was a decision I made because I had nothing to look forward to,” she says. “All my work had dried up. I was waiting for life to happen. I had to create a space to work or I’d just keep waiting.”

            Artist Sophie Montagnon, known for her emotionally powerful bronze and acrylic (lucite) sculptures, created a series of sculptures during the pandemic. “I looked at the people around me and myself and saw the loneliness and desire to connect with others,” she says. “It inspired me to create a trilogy and other pieces that reflect this time. In them, you can really feel that fear of the future. I still have a lot of things in my head I want to address. The pandemic made me think on a deeper level.” 

Artist Sophie Montagnon

            As a girl, Montagnon was influenced by Rene Lalique’s beautiful glass sculptures and by the strong women around her. Her sculptures are often feminine and sensuous with a focus on hair as a metaphor. “I connect with the unconscious and it reflects in my work,” she says. “I want to explore what people are feeling.” 

            Katie Craymer was a senior at the Art Institute of Chicago when the pandemic forced classes online. She didn’t let the disappointment of finishing school from home in Westport dim her creative light. “My first undertaking was ‘The Crochet Monsters,’—a trio of crochet beings I made by hand,” explains Craymer. “These masked crochet beings, inhabited by myself, are photographed emerging from the corners of walls in the home and preparing to disguise themselves as crochet blankets and pillows.” 

Artist and Designer Katie Craymer

            Craymer purchased a knitting machine before the pandemic hit, enabling her to knit from home with speed and varied techniques. “I have enjoyed the lack of distractions being home,” says Craymer. “It has given me the time to create over fifteen knit garments, crochet four outfits, and start my own knitwear brand: Entering The Fantastic.” 

            While many families discovered the beauty of stay-at-home bonding time, Katie and her father, renowned photographer Chris Craymer, mixed their creative juices. “My Dad and I were able to collaborate in photographing my work,” explains Katie, “which was a creative quarantine activity to do together.” 


Book a Home for the Holidays photo session with Jerri Graham and make sure you are documenting your family bonding time:  & @jerrigrahamphotography on Instagram

Montagnon’s divers and meditative yogis are lovely sculptures for those seeking serenity in the New Year. The gold head with gold flakes named “Brainstorm” promises brighter times too. She also designs figurative gold jewelry, with many pieces representing the “beauty and sensuality of women and their strengths”—what woman doesn’t want a piece of that? Some sculptures available at Nova and Middlemarch in Westport or visit: & @sophiemontagnon on Instagram

What could be more perfect for winter? Order custom crochet and knit pieces from Katie Craymer through @enteringthefantastic on Instagram