Creativity During Quarantine

I am an international student from China and currently stuck on campus because of the coronavirus. Right now, the campus is so empty and quiet. All evidence shows that the campus belongs to me because you can barely see anyone here.

I never imagined one day, I wouldn’t be able to go to class anymore. Now, I take all of my classes online and share the same class among students from different time zones, even different countries. This has become my daily lifeno spring break, no gym, no actual friends, no meetings, no parties. I just visit places virtually and talk to my friends on Zoom.

I felt pretty sad and unlucky at the very beginning of the pandemic. My mom helped me order four plane tickets back home but all of them were canceled. What’s worse, I had some friends who were graduating this semester, and they all left Trinity. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see most of my friends in person again since some of them were international students and probably would not return to the states. It felt like we just started with “Hello” and then quickly ended with “Goodbye” after a collection of short, unforgettable moments. What was even harder was some of my professors never held online classes and just sent out weekly notes to us. In some moments, I felt discarded by the world. 

My journey during this time has been pretty indescribable. At the very beginning of the spring semester, I just came back to the United States from China. A few days after I arrived, I saw the news about the coronavirus outbreak in China and that all the people there had to stay at home instead of going out. Lots of countries deterred from trading with China, and all companies there had to shut down because of the infectious disease. These events lasted for almost two months, and depression fell over the country. Every time my mom called me, she said, “You are so lucky because you’re back to school in time!” She heard some international students who chose to stay home for the first week of classes were not allowed back because of Trump’s policy. I was told several times, “Luckily, you still can go back and can enjoy your junior year.” 

But things reversed quickly and became uncontrollable with the number of people infected. At the beginning of February, no one heard about the coronavirus. At the beginning of March, people were making light of the situation on TikTok, and everyone thought we could still do spring break. In the middle of March, sanitizers and masks became out of stock, and at the beginning of April, professors started to consider moving next semester online. Personally, I hope this won’t have to happen because next year is my senior year. However, we cannot deny the truth, as the Center for Disease Control said that if people took more precautions at the beginning of February, things wouldn’t have been this terrible.

Life was pretty simple and boring for me during the first two weeks of self-quarantine. Every day, I just clicked on the Zoom app and then did almost nothing for the entire day. I’m not the kind of person who really wanted to spend most of my leisure time on the Internet, so I chose to do some fun things during my free time. I soon came up with an interesting idea to use materials from my dorm to build projects for my sculpture class. Everything could be used as material for my projects! Here’s a tip: never ignore the daily stuff. They can be normal and small but can actually play really important roles for your projects. 

The word “assemblage” inspired me a lot. Assemblage is an art form or medium usually created on a defined substrate that consists of 3D elements projected out of or from the substrate. After seeing work from various artists, I learned that these pieces were made by assembling disparate elements like everyday objects—scavenged by the artist or bought specially. Then, I found some objects in my dorm and created a piece to represent our current global crisis. The common phenomena among people include buying tons of toilet paper and hand-sanitizer and also wearing masks. I assembled all of these items together to spell out the official name of the coronavirus—COVID. I also added a dark filter to the photo because I wanted people to remember this moment and treat the virus seriously. 

“COVID” by Doris Wang ’21. Sculpture.

To take it a step further, I blended the mediums of painting and assemblage to create “COVID-19.” The “C” symbolizes toilet paper and the “O” represents the sample of the virus. The “V” is made of masks as a reminder to wear masks when you go out. The “I” represents a candle to symbolize the memorial of people who died in this horrible pandemic. Finally, the “D” represents the hand-sanitizer and cleaning your hands before every meal. For the number “19,” the “1” is a combination of flags of the five countries with the highest death rates (at the time), and “9” is made of the flag from the World Health Organization. I designed “HOPE” by turning the capital E backward because even though this issue is serious, we still need to face it.

A painting of the word "COVID." Each letter symbolizes a different object, as described by the author in the blog post.
“COVID-19” by Doris Wang ’21. Painting.

The third project was inspired by Gabriel Orozco’s “Isla en Isla.” I made the New York City skyline using STAPLES! Here’s what I thought— because of the pandemic, everyone who can has to stay home. I still wanted to have a glimpse of my favorite city, NYC, and experience what it would feel like to look down from Rockefeller with a 360-degree view of the whole city. To recreate and enjoy this view, I used art.   

A picture of the author's project, which is a backdrop of the New York City Skyline with some of the skyscrapers made of staples.
“Untitled” by Doris Wang ’21. Sculpture.

Staying at home might feel boring, but don’t be mad about this. You can use your creativity and imagination to make the most out of your newfound free time. Also, take care of yourself mentally and physically during this time: stay inside if you can, wash your hands before each meal, and don’t use your hands to touch your face while going outside. Although we don’t know when, this will be over eventually. 

Doris Wang is a junior at Trinity College. She is an international student from China and double majors in mathematics and studio arts. She loves hiking, traveling, and baking peanut butter and chocolate cookies in her spare time. She also enjoys drawing, designing, photography, and writing.

Copyrighted by Doris Wang. Editorial assistance provided by Morgan Finn. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.

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