Pandemic Artwork

Students Reflect on Pandemic's Pain and Changes in Their Art
Posted on 05/06/2022
drawing of two people separated by a covid virus

a bulletin board with title Time Warp, showing student pandemic art

The early days of the pandemic, when we creatures of social habit were forced to retreat into our rooms and ourselves for long stretches of time, inspired art about identity, isolation, illness, change and much more.

“At the start of the pandemic, I was a different person than I am today,” writes Ava Thorsen, a sophomore at Hillsboro High School.

Art became a balm for many people during those difficult months, whether they were consuming it or creating it.

“Drawing helped me relax and chill,” writes Joey Brawner, another Hillsboro sophomore.

Ava, Joey and other students in Hillsboro art teacher Briana Burtsell’s classes created their own artwork about COVID and its soul-shaking impact.

Some of that art is presented on this page, as well as Ava and Joey’s written reflections on their pieces and the emotions that helped bring them into being.

Ava Thorsen, 10th grade

art of a blouse with just main seams remaining"At the start of the pandemic, I was a different person than I am today. The pandemic affected my life so completely, in some ways for the better, and in some ways for the worse. One of the main things I struggled with during the pandemic was being alone with myself. Having no break from my own thought made me realize just how much I was struggling mentally and physically and how much events in the past were affecting me. Because of this I learned how to take care of myself, and I learned how to give myself grace. Getting diagnoses and understanding how my body works led me to a type of self-acceptance I had never experienced before. It took a long and painful process to get here, but eventually I used the new knowledge of who I am and whom I want to be to build the person, the space, and the life I want. I am so much more at peace with myself than I used to be, and I know how to overcome moments of hardship.

"Although there was a lot I gained emotionally this year, I lost so much too. I was hardly able to see the friends I loved, and because of this we grew farther apart. I missed watching my little cousins grow, and I hardly saw my aging grandparents. I lost many of the hobbies that made me happy, and I lost all of the people I saw each day at school. During the pandemic I felt like a shell of a person because most of what was important to me had been taken away.

"My artwork 'Missing Pieces' represents this feeling. It is a white blouse made up only of its essential seams. I cut away all of what makes the shirt whole and made a face mask with some of these pieces. The shirt can still be put on and worn; however, it is nothing like it once was. This shirt relates to my life because all of the external pieces of my identity were removed by Covid. I was finally able to see who I was on the inside because I lacked so much of the expression I usually relied on. My piece is a metaphor for this concept; without all of the excess fabric, one is able to see the seams that make the shirt what it is. If I had to make a similar work representing how I feel today, the shirt would be much more complete; however, it would still have a way to go until it was fully back to normal."

Joey Brawner, 10th grade

black and white drawing of boy sitting in a chair in shadow of covid virus"My time warp art is about loneliness during the pandemic. The virus acts like a freezing spotlight and makes the person in the chair completely alone. It's also a parody of a scene from an anime I like.  

During the pandemic, to handle loneliness I would play video games with my friends online, and we would hang out that way. Art was also something I did throughout the pandemic. Drawing helped me relax and chill."






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