Almost everyone, from all walks of life have been affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. The pandemic and lockdown have changed our lives for the future going forward and have had a significant impact on the way we look at the world. Art is one of the purest forms of human expression, thus, it is no surprise that during the period of the pandemic, there was a rise in pandemic inspired street art. So many artists have found inspiration and a new perspective during the pandemic and have expressed it in their art.
Artists have found inspiration in so many parts of the aspects of life in quarantine, ranging from the toilet paper rush at the beginning of the pandemic to the separation of loved ones.
Another section of pandemic art that stood out to me was integrating the use of masks with religion. Throughout India, local artists have created murals and statues which not only celebrate their gods, but also enforce the use of mask wearing. These art pieces show the gods wearing a mask to give across a message that “everyone must wear a mask, no exceptions.”
The majority of the street art that has caught the media’s attention, are pieces that celebrate the outstanding job of our healthcare sectors. Murals showing doctors and nurses with angel wings and halos to symbolizing that our medics are the frontline defence and perhaps even our saving grace in these uncertain times. Actually, my personal favourite piece of pandemic art is “Super Nurse” done by Dutch street artist FAKE. Super Nurse is a mural of celebration of the healthcare sector and to express our upmost gratitude of putting themselves at risk by being on the front lines of this global crisis.
Artists have also used art during the pandemic to express their mistrust in the government and their handling of the pandemic situation across the world. In the Brazil, the country with the third most cases in the world, artist Aira Ocrespo, painted a mural of president Bolsonaro as a clown with the text saying “Bolsonaro’s mask against the coronavirus”. This is due to Bolsonaro’s stance on anti-mask wearing as well as going completely against a national lockdown which has led to the spike of COVID 19 cases in Brazil. There have also been many murals about Trump and his comments about using bleach and other disinfectants to get rid of the virus.
In addition, artists have used their pandemic art to actually raise money for the healthcare sectors. For example, Game Changer (by Banksy) is currently hanging as moral support Southampton Hospital staff but will be auctioned off shortly to raise funds for the British National Healthcare Service.
What is most relatable about pandemic art is that these artists have been able to express the fear, outrage, insecurity and distress that the public now feel about their governments and the pandemic itself. However, pandemic art also finds itself inspiring us to remain creative through these challenging times, while reminding us to be grateful for those actually serving on the front lines, our healthcare workers.