A woman sits near a pot of flowers with lush red blooms. A wide swath of sunlight streams into the room, bathing the plant in brightness. We can’t read the woman’s expression as she gazes toward a window, but the artwork is called “Renewal,” so we’d like to think she’s feeling optimistic.

Stamford artist Bruce Horan included just a few elements in his oil painting, yet this picture speaks volumes — especially when considering the state of the world. “Renewal” is among the thought-provoking works in The Maritime Garage Gallery’s new virtual exhibit, “Strength Through Unity.”

Curator Robert Abriola said this is the South Norwalk gallery’s first virtual show, a change forced by coronavirus concerns.

Creative, inspiring images featured in “Strength Through Unity” will remain online through June 30, and the exhibit continues to grow; submissions will be considered through June 15. The evolving show can be viewed on the gallery’s social media sites .

Artists are encouraged to enter pieces depicting the unity and strength of humanity, given the pandemic. All mediums are accepted and there’s no fee to submit a piece for consideration. The email is maritimegallery@norwalkpark.org.

“I’ve always been a fan of Bruce’s work but this piece in particular is very powerful,” Abriola said of Horan’s painting. “The theme and composition show an individual who is sitting in solitude next to a beacon of light shining on beautiful flowers. The flowers represent strength, renewal and the spirit of hope.”

“Virtual online shows are not new in the arts industry, but have become much more prevalent given the current situation with the global pandemic,” said Abriola, a Norwalk-based artist. “We wanted to continue our efforts by providing inspiring art to the community...”

Abriola said he hopes this new exhibit expresses the idea that “we will come through this... together.” He shared more via email.

Q: The guidelines ask artists to explore the unity and strength of humanity in this unprecedented time. What led you to this theme?

A: I created the concept ... based on how the spirit and willpower of humanity can rise together to overcome this challenge. Art is a very powerful medium and is part of our culture. Culture is everywhere and art inspires us all because it can provide mankind with imaginative links to parts of ourselves...

Q: But did something specific inspire it?

A: There wasn’t any one thing in particular that inspired the art show’s theme. The pandemic has impacted the entire world and will inevitably change the way we live forever. The willpower of the human spirit is stronger than any other force... I believe we all have a responsibility to the world and making it a better place.

As an artist, I feel an even greater responsibility to this, as our artwork often represents a visual journal of life. Artwork is powerful and can influence hearts and minds to ultimately drive behavior and change. The “brush” is mightier than the sword.

Connecticut Media Group