The Heaviness of Lockdown

Art by Cameron La Neve

With this project I want to create a piece of art that shows the weight and makes a visual representation of what people are going through during the past year during lockdown. I want to push my creativity in creating something visual that also represents all of what I have just explained. This project is just as important to me as it is to the class, being able to express myself and create something that pushes myself is just as important as getting a good grade in this class because this is my way of being me.

Our society in lockdown was and is being affected way more than what we can just see on the surface. I created a series of works that show the weight of what people have gone through and what they are still going through throughout this pandemic. When looking back at the previous year and further back to the start of the pandemic things seem to start to get jumbled together. Days, weeks, and months forming one giant feeling, an emotion that was brought up not only by what was happening externally but what was also happening internally. From socially distancing and not being able to be in close contact to a complete lockdown of the country that left many people alone with not only their thoughts but with their past and their future. Not having a way out, no outlet or distraction from their daily lives as it was repeated everyday – over and over again.

This starts the beginning of my research and my project. The surface level of being in this environment for over a year is too shallow to be the only thing talked about. This issue goes way beyond the need of a simple stimulus check that barely covers any of the financial losses, but it goes deep into who people are in their most basic nature – a pack animal. Being a pack animal means that we thrive off of our surrounding species. We are not made to be alone. Being alone is one of the deepest ideas that affects us in the most significant of ways. If we are alone then what is there to do? If we are alone then what is there to live for? These questions are the haunting thoughts that were and still are common, not only throughout our communities but throughout the world.

This especially negatively impacts the younger generation as they’re dealing with not being confident in what they are doing with their life or even who they are. The rate of teen suicide has been going up over the past 10 to 15 years, a 56% increase in less than two decades. With this being true before the pandemic and the lockdown, there has only been a higher rise of suicides amongst the younger generations, and it does not show signs of stopping on this upward trend. This is a huge problem. The younger generation is disproportionally affected by this pandemic and shutdown because of the lack of knowledge of how to deal with their mental health. This generation has a big problem because they do not know how to cope as well as the older generations and is causing them to have a much higher rate of depression as well as other problems.

This proof in the change of how people act and who they are branches from physical changes in the brain that the lockdown has caused. There are actual physical changes that have affected a lot of people, which I do not feel is common knowledge. This is not just a change in attitude or outlook in life as most people would think. This is not something that is just trivial or something that can be looked over. This is proof of one of my statements above that humans are pack animals. One of the biggest physical changes that have been recorded is in the hippocampus which is our memory center and also helps us understand where we are in space and time. This is one of the biggest reasons why it is harder to pin-point specific events that have occurred over the past year without being told when they specifically have occurred. The article goes on to state that these effects have a higher chance of happening with individuals who are younger than 26 years old. This is hard to show in a physical aspect but it is important to the research and understanding the problem and idea behind my works of art.

Taking all of these ideas and compiling them together into pieces of art was a lot of fun for me. While these are very serious topics, I took my time to let my creative mind to come up with different ways to show these ideas above. The works that I have created follow and while they do not all connect in direct ways, each of them have their own meaning and place in this exhibition.

This first piece of art was made strategically with something that is included in all of the pieces. That is the use of only a dark black paint and the use of a single word or multiple words. This is the first piece of three because of the impact of the word at the bottom “alone”. This word is more profound than you would think on the surface. This word represents the feeling of being alone and maybe even physically being alone over the span of the pandemic, but the piece also includes a smiley face. This smiley face represents the outward expression of ourselves whether it be on social media, or in our own personal lives. The smiling face that makes it seem like life is all good, but under that is just the sense of being alone. The extra paint splatter is also consistent throughout another piece and that symbolizes the messiness of our lives and our society as a whole right now.

This is the second piece in the series of pieces for this project and it is almost the reverse idea of the first piece. The first piece focused on the negative of the pandemic and the effect whereas I wanted to show a positive. Including more color as the background to show the expression and differences in what everyone is going through but including them all together and overlapping them because although we are all different, we are all going through these tough times together. Moving onto how the piece is different, the word is now positive and it is above the face. This has the same type of meaning as the first one where the face is who we are on the outside and what we show the world. The feeling of being alive and staying strong is now on top of the face as it is superior to all the negative thoughts that may be going on in our heads.

The last piece in the series is this one. The balance of life, not only in the pandemic but in life as a whole. The weight of everything in our life we always hold on ourselves and try not to let it fall out of line which is represented by the words and the boulders that are on top of the person holding them up. Furthermore, to apply this to the pandemic I included the side walls to make it seem like we are all alone in our battles even though we actually have people around us. During the pandemic it seems that our weight that we carry around daily are so much more than what we normally carry as well as the fact that it seems like we are alone during the pandemic. This piece also can be interpreted in a positive way. With the person still holding everything together, not letting it fall, and not letting himself fall to the floor but instead staying up and fighting to keep everything together shows how hard we are trying as a society to keep everything together to the best of our abilities.

This concludes the project that I put together. From the research at the beginning to the pieces of art that I created to try to show this pandemic and the lockdown in an artistic way. I hope I showed everything to the best of my abilities as well as explained everything in a manner that is not only appropriate but is also understandable.

References:

Hill, Stacey. 2020. How to Understand and Use Visual Weight in Composition. Digital Photography School. https://digital-photography-school.com/understanding-visual-weight-composition/, accessed May 3, 2021

Lyons, Suzannah. 2020. More Forgetful, Irritable and Tired than Normal? Welcome to Your Brain under Lockdown. ABC News. ABC News. https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2020-09-02/your-brain-under-lockdown/12611994, accessed May 3, 2021

Mental Health America, Mental Health America. The State of Mental Health in America. Mental Health America. https://www.mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america, accessed May 3, 2021

Singh, Shweta, Deblina Roy, Krittika Sinha, et al. 2020. Impact of COVID-19 and Lockdown on Mental Health of Children and Adolescents: A Narrative Review with Recommendations. Psychiatry Research. Published by Elsevier B.V. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7444649/, accessed May 3, 2021

Santhanam, Laura. 2019. Youth Suicide Rates Are on the Rise in the U.S. PBS. Public Broadcasting Service. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/youth-suicide-rates-are-on-the-rise-in-the-u-s, accessed May 3, 2021

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