Young Artists Examine Life In The Time Of COVID-19

Young Artists Examine Life In The Time Of COVID-19

Adversity breeds creativity. And in times like these, art can heal us and help us find meaning. So we turned to nine talented illustrators, painters and collagists for their inspiration and reflections. Enjoy exploring your new fave young artists.

Casey Hawkins | @caseyhawkins_NLD

“Each morning I stroll down to my local café to buy a takeaway coffee before getting stuck into work as an education program designer. Over the past few days, the cafe has had to reduce staff and execute strict rules like no keep-cups or cash payments. Despite such trying times, everyone seems more connected than ever. Instead of being glued to phones while waiting, people are smiling at each other and making friendly conversation at a distance. This morning I heard two customers check-in with the barista and offer their best wishes. Feeling the love, I snuck a cupcake into my order even though it was before 9 am because I want to support the business as much as I can (it had nothing to do with the buttercream, I swear!). Turns out kindness and coffee is one hell of a combo to get through a day of isolation. This illustration was hand-drawn with ink and digitally coloured in.”

Jasmine Walker | @haces_cambiar

Jasmine Walker is an environmental engineer by trade but an artist at heart. Working primarily in watercolour, she uses painting as a time of self-reflection and processing the world around her. COVID-19 has left her with plentiful time, with university online, losing her hospitality job and the state largely on lockdown. An extrovert, social distancing has left Jasmine feeling anxious and isolated from the everyday rhythms of life. 

Her work explores the myriad of possibilities in this crisis, music, gardening, swimming, laughing, but also ponders how deeply our system is broken. This time is a chance for self-reflection, but a terrifying one. The rug has been pulled out from under us. 

Change is happening at an unprecedented rate, with government payments doubled – as a recipient of youth allowance who has recently lost work, this provided huge relief for how Jasmine’s new few months will look. COVID-19 has seen galleries close, communities fold and incomes waver. Young people are anxious about the coming months, scared for their family and worried for their mental health. 

This piece is a combination of overwhelming feelings, a complex mixture of anxiety, hope, joy and fear. 

DocG | @docg_

DocG is a multidisciplinary creator from Melbourne. Drawing his creative influence largely from the pop art movement of the 1980s, DocG explores repetition and bold colour to create physical works on canvas and open-air murals around Melbourne.

His works are recognisable by his unique cartoon-esque style and ‘DocG eyes’ symbol and ‘1800-C@LL-DOCG’, which serve as a call out for people to seek his creative perspective. DocG can be thought of as a selection of creative tools for hire, curated specifically according to each new idea or collaborative venture.

The piece portrays a simple message, as to be honest the instruction is simple. Stay safe. The world is in a very scary position if people don’t take this seriously. This virus has caused a slippery slope in the world that we know. It found a flaw in the system and attacked it, in terms of our health, politically and economically.

COVID-19 has directly affected the art community and many communities around the world, as a small business/freelancer I depend on incoming jobs and other business to function, I guess the virus or self-isolation from the virus, is teaching me to be more understanding, more aware of the cause and effect of our actions in a global sense and community sense and the blessings we have right in front of us. We all have a lot to lose if we don’t help the world overcome this pandemic.

Matthew Piga | @art_by_pigasso

“I’m Matt, a part-time digital artist/illustrator living in Frankston on the Mornington Peninsula, VIC. I have a passion for making people smile with my drawings which I hope help to remind them of the lighter side to life.  I believe this is even more important now given the current pandemic as it is very easy for people to feel isolated and down, so it is important to inject some humour into the world for people to share and connect over. While I like to walk on the humorous side, it is important that we take this Pandemic seriously as it can drastically change the path of our lives if we don’t. People are dying from this and we all have a duty to ensure we are doing our bit to flatten the curve and keep our friends, family and community safe. If the tables were turned and our age group was at risk, our parents and grandparents would do whatever it takes to ensure we were safe, so we need to do the same for them. Not all heroes wear capes and fight crime, some wear masks, wash their hands and stay home.”

Milo  | @Voiddad

“I am a 23-year-old Melbourne-based artist who creates digital collages on the Instagram account of the same name. My work expresses emotive themes through mixing and breaking online artifacts and found images.

This collage explores the derealisation of modern social isolation in the obsessive trance of the 24/hr news cycle. Time blurs together while horrific realisation and detached dissociation crash in waves as we are consecutively numbed and re-sensitised by a live commentary of a world tragedy. Hope for social reform is juxtaposed with the increased threat of state violence, while we open our emails that “hope to find us well during these Uncertain Times(tm)”. Grieving in the present and fearing the future, we sit in our bedrooms, and watch, and wait.”

Julianne Nguyen | @inter_human

“I have been feeling down for humanity. After family prayer and days after, I felt peace in my home and with my family. Some feelings, insights and impressions I felt late last week have been:

– That this uncertain period will pass, that it is these periods of suffering will help shake and wake up our community, society and broader leaders and government officials. 

– That this global effect, our global public health, our economic systems, our schools, our healthcare means not only providing assistance but this will change our existing policies and what it means to care for our community; our elderly citizens, our youth. 

-Hopefully we will wake up to our current reality; that in order to move forward, we will need to let go of our abundance, to give and share, to listen to the stories and experiences of our everyday neighbours and families.

Not only am I affected individually as a young person working as a freelancer in the gig economy, I have realised there are larger intangible losses in humanity than we can be prepared to let go. We’re all feeling this loss but through this global suffering, we value what really matters in life—connection with our family, relationships with close ones and friends, service and charity. As a result of this, we can hope—REGENERATE again and be whole again.

The two characters are Japanese Kanji that mean regenerate (renewal or restoration to life). The art piece is done vertically or portrait style to highlight our humble presence over something greater and higher than us mortals on the ground. The white open cuts on the characters are done by scraping bits of the butcher’s paper. This is to portray that we are not perfect in human nature but we can work together to seek peace, flourishing and to find reconciliation with ourselves, our family, our other relationships with our neighbours and our spiritual nature.”

Gen Townsend | @gentownsend.artist

Gen Townsend (She/Her) is a visual artist and facilitator raised on Kulin Land, and an artist in residence at Yarra Youth Services.

Covid-19 looks like cancelled shows,
denial, acceptance, bank accounts low.
Galleries, studios, doors closed shut;
projects on the line and thousands cut.

Quiet at home but, damn, noise is LOUD!
So many opinions in the online crowd.
Do I post to share or to prove, I wonder;
Fear I might steal the experts’ thunder.

Those racing to buy, to get tested first
Same old, same old are feeling the thirst.
Now we’re being blended together, at full speed
Our common pain is exposing the greed. 

Those with power sharpening knives
Are uprooting even wealthier lives.
Each action matters in this whirlwind flood
To slow the blender from drawing more blood.

In the meantime, becoming reconnected
with care and truth, enough has been deflected.
Social support is FINALLY coming through
because, indeed, we always had the option to…

To question centuries of inequality here,
to appreciate what happens under crippling fear,
to empathise when families are forcibly separated,
to see how our collective creativity patiently waited.

Natasha Brennfleck | @tsh_brn

“I am Natasha Brennfleck and I am an artist living and working in South East Melbourne. I work in sculpture exploring textiles, tactility, and craft in installation formats. This collage titled Frenzy reflects the capitalist overtones that exist throughout this health crisis. Exploring the relationship between consumer and product and companies, Frenzy speaks to the concept of panic buying, the rise of online-outlet sales and the prevalence of marketing in the everyday. The work depends on layering of line, shape, and language. The layer of line work represents my mind; chaotic and whimsical. The phrase comes from a concept I often think and talk about with close friends. The act of collage transforms the singular voice to a collective voice by way of the mass-produced text. I am inspired by the importance of language and how we relate to each other especially in times of social distancing. The collective understanding of language is recalibrated by amalgamating these words into a new context. With ‘Frenzy’, I was inspired to translate the spatial and communal qualities of language into a two-dimensional space.”

Rose Gordon | @good.ideasatthetime

“Isolation is a privilege, but it can get lonely. Social distancing in the time of COVID-19 has intensified my need for physical touch and affection. It’s as though my body and mind have become hyper-aware of the lower levels of dopamine and serotonin I am getting by not being able to emotionally connect with others through touch. I am a tactile, affectionate person so having physical contact with others taken away is testing my emotional resilience. As I find myself bound by the walls of my own home, I thought of comforting household objects that could represent the touch and affection I have been missing. My drawings often aim to convey a message that relates or resonates somehow with others, so I created these in the hope of comforting others who might be experiencing the same feelings as I am. Now more than ever, in a time of isolation I implore others to use art to connect those who feel disconnected.”