Before the pandemic, West Point artist traveled across the country with her work. Now, she is showcasing her art at home.

Em Holter, The Daily Press
·3 min read

Former West Point art teacher Monti Sikes had spent the better part of her retirement creating and showcasing her artwork. Trading her classroom for the open road, Sikes spent most months traveling across the country sharing her art, books and knowledge to folks eager to learn.

The beginning of the year marked the beginning of a long journey across the state and country with months booked out to showcase her latest book, “Artful Angels” — her latest book detailing her art accompanied by her poetry.

Then, the pandemic hit.

“Artists have been harmed by the epidemic, but I think that authors have been especially hard hit because to promote books we depend on attending events and signings and making talks to the public,” Sikes said.

While Sikes had an eventful year ahead of her, her calendar quickly emptied as cancellations began to pile up.

But, Sikes is finding ways to adjust.

In her studio, Sikes experiments with new mediums. Placing an array of acrylic paints on a canvas, she works on her latest abstract piece — one she plans to showcase in her Richmond gallery space.

Some nights, Sikes would hold demonstrations on what she was working on at the time — often nature scenes, angels or various animals.

But, things look different than before.

Before, every two months, Sikes would head to the Crossroads Art Center in Richmond to showcase her art and see others’ works. Now, she’s found a new medium online.

“I’ve done a lot of things, by way of Zoom, and I had never heard of it until last spring, which, is really sort of amazing,” Sikes said.

Throughout the pandemic, Sikes has moved her work online — selling her works of art on her website, holding book promotions and attending virtual conferences.

While it isn’t the same as attending a conference in Sante Fe explaining her art pieces, Sikes said she has still found joy in sharing her knowledge of her craft virtually.

In the meantime, she said she plans to take time to hone her craft in her studio — exploring acrylic and coal wax creations.

Until things return to normal, she’ll continue to host events online and work with West Point’s own Arts Alive which helps foster art programs in the region.

“Her devotion to the visual arts is one of her many passions,” artist Sue Kurfees said. “Monti shares her gifts by teaching, exhibiting and creating artwork. Her enthusiasm and energy are an inspiration.”

Em Holter, emily.holter@virginiamedia.com, 757-256-6657, @EmHolterNews.

We want to hear from you

For many, this year has been one of stress, turmoil and also triumph. From the initial shutdowns to quarantine to the introduction of vaccines, folks have watched, learned and grown throughout the pandemic.

As a community, we’ve come together, supported one another and seen firsthand the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

We’ve seen the loss of friends, family and neighbors. We’ve come together to share our condolences and grieve together.

We’ve watched as community staples shut their doors for the last time. Likewise, we’ve seen new businesses emerge.

We’ve taken the time to look inward. We’ve used our time to discover new hobbies.

We all have a story to tell. Whether it be a story of loss, growth, learned skills or new beginnings, we would like to hear and share them.

If you are interested in sharing your story, reach out to:

Em Holter, emily.holter@virginiamedia.com, at the Tidewater Review;

Alexander Perry, alexander.perry@virginiamedia.com, at the Virginia Gazette.