ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Many have turned to the arts as a source of comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have taken it upon themselves to document the historic event. Photographer Marco Wikstrom wanted to reflect on the difficulties faced by locals in his newest exhibit titled “COVID, A Photographic Essay.” He will be donating 100% of the profits from the sale of the photos to the Roadrunner Food Bank to help feed those who lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic.
The photo essay can be seen at the Albuquerque Photographers Gallery in Old Town. Wikstrom said he did the most visual thing that he could and went around the city taking photos of businesses that were affected by the COVID-19 closures. “For some, it’s a disaster; for some, it’s an inconvenience. Luckily for most of us, it’s just an inconvenience, but a lot of people have been affected in a lot of different ways,” Wikstrom said.
As a film photographer who develops his own photographs, all the time he spent on the project gave him time to contemplate the photos of empty parking lots and buildings, which represent the many jobs and opportunities people lost throughout the year. “You start thinking about it, about how many people are affected by it. Some of these people may have to go to a food bank, or might not be able to put a roof over their head. That’s why I decided to donate the proceeds to the Roadrunner Food Bank,” Wikstrom said.
Having traveled his whole life, Wikstrom came to New Mexico after retiring from the Air Force in 2002. He went back to school to study geology and got a job that brought him to the state. Now, he works part time as a geologist and spends the rest of his time following the thing he’s most passionate about, which is photography. “I love being in the gallery, I love being creative. When I make a print and somebody buys it, they’re buying something that was hand-made. It’s what art is to me,” Wikstrom said.
A lot of work goes into developing just one photo, Wikstrom said. He prefers to work without a tight deadline, so it would allow him to think on it, do proofs and test prints. “It takes a little time in the dark room to really get it right sometimes,” Wikstrom said. “It’s not like I have the option to edit things on Photoshop, I have to do it manually and plan how it will come out.”
The exhibit is still currently up in the Rio Grande Room at the Albuquerque Photographers Gallery. For more information, visit abqphotographersgallery.com.