Finding Creative Inspiration During the COVID-19 Pandemic

How spending time in isolation is influencing the work of KPU fine arts students

Black Death (right) and COVID-19 (left) by Mika Zhu focuses on disease in a global sense, the spread of misinformation and increased emotion of fear in the public mind. (submitted)

Quarantined KPU artists are letting their creativity flourish during the COVID-19 pandemic. Faced with increased spare time and even boredom, KPU artists like Mika Zhu and Julian Dix are working on new projects inspired by this strange time in history.

Zhu is a third-year international student enrolled in the fine arts program. For her Issues in Contemporary Art class, she had to draw a global issue, so she combined imagery related to COVID-19 and the Black Death.

It took almost 10 hours to complete both of the black ink drawings.

The piece shows images of a large bat with fangs beside a chilling skull, surrounded by rats and coronavirus microbes. She says that the bat is a representation of how fake news has influenced people’s perception of the pandemic.

A piece by Julian Dix. (submitted)

“At the beginning of the coronavirus, I read a lot of fake news and they said that bats are the possible source of the [virus]. But I also read the Canadian news,” she says. “They said it did not [come from] bats, so I didn’t know which one is true.”

Zhu was planning to go to her home country of China before her flight was cancelled due to the virus.

“With so many dead and dying, society has become full of hostility and confusion,” she wrote in an email to The Runner.  

Dix says he was feeling creatively stuck before he self-isolated at home.

“I looked at a bookshelf, and on top of the bookshelf, there was just an arrangement of bottles and jars and objects that had just been placed there mindlessly. And I realized, ‘Oh my god, those look fantastic,’” he says.

After curiously examining the objects, Dix immediately thought of his next project. He started by painting small still life pictures of the objects, and before long, realized the correlation between “painting objects with an idea to the relationship of one object to another” and the pandemic. Some of the factors he found himself considering were “whether they are spaced, whether they are crowded together, and whether it’s just one or two single objects,” and how this relates to flattening the curve.

“That sort of is relevant to our days now, where we are very concerned with social distancing and hibernation and solitude,” Dix says.

If you are a creator and member of the KPU community making art during quarantine, email to share your work and story.