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The Importance of Art During COVID-19

Written By: Josh Garcia ’21

When I looked at my class syllabus last January, it didn’t have a disclaimer saying, “Prepare yourself for a deadly, life-changing pandemic in the spring.”  

Josh Garcia ’21

But when COVID-19 struck our country, it struck dangerously fast. Travel bans had to be quickly implemented, schools needed to be shut down, and businesses needed to adjust to new work flows. There was no time for planning.

When Wabash’s classes moved online, the structure of learning changed and art majors found themselves wondering, “How are we going to make art at home?”

We faced many obstacles and our professors did a great job with being flexible, communicating, and executing modified plans for the remainder of the semester. However, what they did a great job expressing the importance of art during a time like this.

Art forever will be important to our society. People appreciate art in different ways — whether it’s music, dance, poetry, drawings, videos, paintings, sculptures, or even graffiti. Art has no barriers, and continues to be a medium to express feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

I had an abundance of emotions circling through me during the at-home quarantine and transition back to in-person learning. But mostly, I felt stuck. It felt like I had all the time in the world, yet had no clue where my time went. It felt like I had no control, and I like to be in control.

Art Professors Annie Strader and Matt Weedman encouraged us to channel our emotions and use it as fuel to produce art to stop thinking so much and start doing. They knew there was so much potential that could not go to waste, and they got it out of us.

A screenshot of Josh Garcia’s video work. View more of his artwork as a Wabash student on his YouTube channel.

Creating art gives me the space to reflect on any thought, feeling, or experience — whether it be the frustrations from COVID-19, or my obsession over a certain genre of music — it allows me to create something that shows a piece of who I am. I create because it’s exciting and it relieves me of any weight that I may be carrying. To me, it’s a form of self-therapy. I get to speak to and better understand myself, which ultimately leads to me effectively create artwork that articulates my ideas.

I now understand myself in a way that I could not have prior to COVID and better yet, I am able to express myself in a unique way that is me. I discovered that visualizing my emotions not only conveys them, but also releases them. This mentality will endure far beyond graduation, as I continue to work on myself and my art.