As a professional artist of 30 years and the executive director of a New Orleans-based non-profit, Belinda Flores-Shinshillas is no stranger to helping others. The second Belinda Flores-Shinshillas saw the gallery and artist collective The Front was putting together what can only be described as “an emergency fund, gallery, selling platform for artists,” and she wanted in.
She contacted Cristina Molina, one of Flores-Shinshillas’ former art instructors and member of The Front, immediately. Of course, The Front was happy to have her.
Flores-Shinshillas donated one piece to the platform, and when the piece sold she donated the entirety of the sale to the Front’s fund. Afterward, she told the organizers, “Honestly, I don’t need the money right now. I prefer you taking those funds and giving those funds to somebody that really needs the money right now.”
Flores-Shinshillas was happy to help. Over the past few months, she has been inspired by the reactions of New Orleans’ artist communities to COVID-19. In response to the pandemic, artists and shakers have created dozens of mutual aid funds and resources.
“I’ve been seeing that all across New Orleans, with funds not just for visual artists, but for musicians,” Flores-Shinshillas said. “That’s why I love New Orleans. This is a city that understands the value of creativity and the value that its artists bring to the whole society.”
Even in the face of stringent stay-at-home orders, the artist community persists. In fact, Flores-Shinshillas says, it isn’t that different from usual.
“It isn’t that different from usual. Artists create better in the solitude of their studios or working places.”