Musician uses art to express himself amid pandemic; encourages others to use their voice

Posted at 1:03 PM, Apr 14, 2020

Art can have the ability to express our feelings during times when words are hard to find. As the world grapples with change during the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty it brings, an artist of a popular music group is expressing his emotions in creative ways and hopes to make an impact.

“I think everybody has been experiencing this; the disruption of this idea of the future,” said Joseph Pope III. “We’re all kind of forced into this present moment.”

Joseph is a member of the chart-topping band Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats. Amid the pandemic, he found a different way to express himself outside of music.

“When I was struggling with anxiety of all this, I found this hopeful thought that of all the times we want our voices to matter, that we want an individual say in the matter, we don’t feel we get that,” he said. “And a lot of us don’t.”

He doesn’t see the concept of isolation as one that focuses on what we can’t do. Instead, he sees isolation as an opportunity to make an impact.

Joseph got to work and turned a wall into a message about the power isolation can have.

“I wanted to invoke the sense of what 6 feet looked like, literally,” he said of his mural’s design.

It’s a mural that shows the impact we can make together, while living apart.

“We have to ask ourselves every day, can we do it? And how can we do it? What does it take? And what are we learning everyday about the people who are out there risking their lives? And how we get everything back on track in a way that’s better for everybody?” he said.

Joseph was on tour with his band in New York when the coronavirus outbreak cut their tour short.

"I think on the 12th of March we pulled the plug on the tour,” he recalled. "What was happening in New York City was the two weeks before, when so many people were likely exposed who didn’t know.”

Joseph is now back home in Denver, Colorado, with future tour dates in question as the pandemic continues. He’s trying to do his part to flatten the curve.

“I wear a mask because I think it’s the right message to send,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also the right message to send to our community out there, to our workers on the front lines that we’re taking this seriously. That we are going to do whatever we can. Any recommendations they give us that we can follow, I think we should. I think we owe them that respect."

He hopes anyone who sees his mural--whether it’s out their window or as a passerby--doesn’t see it just as a suggestion, but a call to arms for now and the future.

"We have an opportunity to share our voice with our actions in a way we may never have again,” Joseph said. “Flatten the curve, the idea, I believe that we can have an impact. If we can do this, what else can we accomplish?”