Custom acts of kindness are works of art during pandemic

A watercolor card by Jenny Junker features Kiki the cat, a commission to bring cheer to a colleague while working at a distance from home. Special to The Forum
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FARGO — If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then sharing art makes bonds grow stronger. For every missed hug, for every birthday, anniversary and holiday spent apart, for every milestone spent stuck in a screen, let’s turn to art to connect.

Here’s my story of how I comforted a co-worker with art, and some additional ideas to get started.

The 'purrfect' card

My dear colleague at The Arts Partnership, Tania Blanich, recently lost her mother. Despite her strength in daily life, I got a glimpse of her vulnerability on a recent video call. It truly made me feel like a million miles away.

After seeing a post online from local artist Jenny Junker, I knew the perfect way to cheer Tania up. In a snap, Jenny made her the most wonderful commissioned card featuring Kiki the cat.

“I think everyone needs a little glimmer of happiness right now,” Jenny told me. “Knowing that I can provide that for someone just by doing some form of art makes me feel good.”


Jenny Junker of Yellow Chair Press received a flood of orders after announcing she would accept custom orders. One customer even shed happy tears after receiving a portrait of her childhood dog. Special to The Forum

With her signature whimsical line work and pop of watercolor, artist Jenny Junker finds joy in offering a little glimmer of happiness to people in the area. More of her work can be found at Special to The Forum

The card was a hit! While Jenny has a backlog of orders to fill before she can accept new ones, she has whimsical prints and cards available to check out right now on Instagram or at

All about the little things

After I delivered the card, I felt such enormous potential for joy in art that I reached out to more local creatives. Naturally, I ended up on a million different pages, but it all came down to the little things.

Lawi (Samuel) Munyeshure is a nursing student with a passion for art. His focus on drawings with fine details like eyes, hair and skin make his pencil portraits almost picture-perfect.

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A post shared by Samuel Artist SF (@samuel_artist_sf) on


“My favorite (medium) is pencil,” says Samuel. “It was the only one that I used since I was young because it was the only one affordable for me back home in Burundi, Africa.”

Lawi (Samuel) Munyeshure is a nursing student and transplant from Burundi, Africa. His work focuses on fine details and human features, like this portrait of a friend. Special to The Forum

To truly appreciate the mystery of his gift, check out one of his process videos. Watch as he brings family, friends and famous figures to life on Instagram or YouTube by searching "Samuel Artist SF."

Simply surreal creations

Another artist bringing joy through her work is Gina DelVeccio. Her style is a mix of whimsical with surreal colors and perspectives, including soft pastels and edgy black and white.

“I know art is something that always makes me feel better,” Gina says. “So I try to give that back to people, too. And it's especially important when you're stuck inside. I mean, art is the most important thing. Art is books or music, what you look at on your walls.”


“Blackhole” demonstrates Gina DelVeccio’s talents at capturing the female form while adding otherworldly elements and soft pastels. Special to The Forum

Originally from Connecticut, Gina now lives and works in Moorhead. To help support her online presence, she has set up an Etsy shop featuring many boho prints focusing on the female form. In addition to her current work listed, she also accepts commissions from people and can create portraits of people, animals, families and more.

“Art is something positive that lifts you up a little bit, and being able to hold it in your hand or put it on your walls, or even if it’s just like, a sticker or something like that,” Gina explains.

To check out more of her work, visit Gina’s Instagram or check out her website at

More artists accepting commissions

We asked our followers on Twitter about creatives accepting custom art orders and got great feedback. Reach out to the following artists or send us even more recommendations at @Arts_TAP.

  • Christina Perleberg: @cmpearls
  • Amanda Frost: @demandafrost
  • Leah Marie Ecklund: @theleahmarie
  • Aaron Dudgeon: @aaron_dudgeon
  • Elizabeth Moore: @elizzaajmoore
  • Jessi Schmit: @jessischmit

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit

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