Pandemic Art: What Role Might Art Play in our Understanding of a Post COVID Society?

What Role Might Art Play in our Understanding of a Post COVID Society?


We’ve all heard the adage “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” but most of us never had to consider that when talking about our daily, weekly, and monthly routines. Generally it was about a loved one, or even a pet, with a job being occasionally mentioned in the conversation, too. Now, things such as going to the park, having a beer at your favorite brewery, going to a place of worship, running your monthly 5k, or hitting your favorite venue for a concert seem like they are all but wishful thoughts as COVID continues to terrorize the planet.

There are two wonderful silver linings to the “don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” scenario relative to the coronavirus, though, and those are: the simple fact that everyone is going to be full speed ahead when it comes to doing things they love that COVID disallowed, and people are giving a lot of time to their creative hobbies. If all goes well with the latter, there should be an abundance of art, both visual and audible, that will be shared with the masses when crisis communication says, “we’re good to go!”

As is often the case with art, it may not be appreciated until long after it is created, but here are some things we think will make COVID art something to remember.

Visual Art

For painters, writers, sculptors, and those of the like, quarantine was most likely a pretty welcomed event at its onset. Now, at the 5 month mark, even the most introverted that the art world has to offer are probably getting a little restless, but I digress. Artists are experts at funneling their emotions into a “thing” rather than a Twitter rant or simply keeping them inside and allowing stress and anxiety to mount. In a time when emotions are aplenty and swings from great news to horrible news happen often, visual artists are creating some very poignant pieces with underlying meanings such as a need for unity, and other allusions to a society divided.

When we look back on this time, there will be a lot of reminders of COVID in art, from famous paintings that someone added masks to, to artistic representations of a pandemic that changed the world, at least temporarily, more than anything in this millennium.

Audible Art

With motivations often mimicking those of visual artists, musicians, too, have found themselves in sort of incubation chambers with more time to mold their songs than ever before. When you add in the political climate and movements like BLM, there are a ton of voices with a ton of perspectives all waiting to be heard. Hip hop music, for instance, has alluded to police brutality since its inception, and now that more people are listening to the proverbial cries for help, they too are listening to music about the issues.

The group Run the Jewels, for instance, released their 4th album shortly before the murder of George Floyd, and it is ripe with talking points surrounding disparities for marginalized communities. They had a steady following since forming in the early part of the decade, but their music became “right for the time” when they released their 4th album, and it sold and streamed more copies than the other 3 in it’s first month of availability.

As far as COVID-related songs, most of the popular ones have been more about society’s reaction and interaction, rather than the virus itself, but nonetheless, the words are now etched in history, and the music than comes out of the next few years will almost certainly resemble that that has been popular during other times of turmoil.

Whether visual or audible, art is definitely one thing in 2020 we will be able to look back on and think, “Well at least it was a good time for that.”

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