Staring into the face of adversity, celebrated author and poet Maya Angelou famously once said: “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.”


A new art exhibit at the Roots Up Gallery celebrates that uniquely human spirit of overcoming great obstacles while maintaining hope and optimism.


Oddly enough, the exhibit’s timing could not be more appropriate as the world grapples with the first major pandemic it has seen in decades.


In an abundance of caution, the show’s grand opening event had to be moved online to provide “social distancing” for patrons as the country grapples with COVID-19, a virulent respiratory disease moving across the country.


The exhibit opening will now be streamed online beginning March 25 on the gallery’s website to create a creative and safe way for patrons to enjoy the art, said Leslie Lovell, gallery owner.


The new exhibit is called “Still Standing: The Resiliency of Humans and Nature” and features works by three regional artists: Carmen Maria Aguirre, Kim Corcoran, and Lovell, the gallery’s owner and founder.


Lovell says the idea for the exhibit came last summer during the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian as it passed along the Atlantic Coast, just after the Category 5 hurricane decimated the Bahamas.


“When Dorian was coming through, I remember looking out my window and being mesmerized by what I saw,” Lovell recalled. “The destruction had just gone through the islands and it made me think of human nature and the way our good traits can get us through the storm.”


Lovell jotted down 12 paintings that immediately came to mind which she felt reflected that human spirit of perseverance against great odds. It sparked an idea of putting those collected works into a show, so Lovell reached out to a few artists to get the ball rolling.


Each of the three artists curated for the new exhibit bring a different artistic style and approach to the show.


Lovell’s work features abstract expressionism, displaying a collage of colors and moods, while Carmen Maria Aguirre is a figurative painter, representing the scenes and environments of her daily life from coastal Florida to Georgia.


Artist Kim Corcoran rounds out the trio with her expressive paintings reflecting the bright colors and vibrant emotions of nearly 30 years spent living in Latin America before moving to Savannah.


The scenes, hues and feelings of the exhibit speak to the resilience of humanity and evoke a spirt of triumph, Lovell says, whether overcoming a natural disaster, man-made tragedy or even a viral disease.


“I think this exhibit does speak to what is happening right now around us,” Lovell added. “Like any other obstacle you have to search within and delve into yourself to find the strength to survive - whatever that may be.”


The exhibit opens Wednesday, March 25 at the Roots Up Gallery and runs through Sunday, April 12. Though the kick-off party was moved online to avoid drawing a large crowd in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, the show itself is free and open to the public and will continue as planned.


Lovell thinks the timing couldn’t be better and hopes these works inspire visitors to overcome their own obstacles as the nation learns to move forward to navigate this latest health crisis.


“We’re trying to get creative so we can share this with the public in a safe way,” Lovell added. “We’re working on making this as exciting and interactive as possible.”