Quarantine Art

An original piece by Lily Switka

When 2020 began, it was the Year of the Rat. Then, it was the year of WWIII. Then, it was wildfires, murder hornets, tiger kings, Megan and Harry, protests, politics, postponements and, of course, a pandemic. The evolution of 2020 has been predicated on a consistent current of absurdity and unpredictability. Despite the chaos that has ensued, and against all odds, 2020 may come to be synonymous with positive changes as well, which, for some students, is now reflected in art.

Just months ago, “quarantine” was conceptually exclusive to Hollywood and science labs, not even a part of the common vocabulary. Yet, within just a few months, it has come to demand radical changes to the American (and Villanova) lifestyle. The underlying expectation required that most everyone stay isolated and sheltered away from the chaos. This has demanded a nearly complete deviation from traditional on-campus life, where University students normally have the license and opportunity to take part in all forms of self-expression. So, when the dust had settled from the mass exodus of mid-March in the wake of COVID-19’s arrival on the East Coast, many were left wondering, outside of their Zoom commitments, “What do I do now?”.

For once, free time had become an ample commodity for many students stuck at home through the remaining spring semester and summer break. With limited options for in-person interaction or activity, many students notably took to social media, especially Instagram, to compensate. Between the massive influx of online activism and masked posts, the feed has become a lobby for student artists to showcase their work, from drawings and paintings, to graphic design or chalky sketches.

For some, like senior Jenna Kolano (@fluorescent.jen) who specializes in monochromatically inspirational doodles, it has become a new pastime to share with friends, under the guise of witty monikers. Others have used the time to expand on previous artisanship and finish out unfinished projects, such as junior Ryan Weicht (@ryanw.art), who has done his elaborate and intricate Sharpie-drawn landscapes. Junior Lily Switka (@lilclubhouse) even built a small business out of her paintings throughout the summer, operating out of the actual namesake, a shed in her backyard. Senior Megan Amico (@paintsbymamico) similarly took commissions, and continues to do so, on her painted tracings of popular scenes. Following its grand return to Netflix in late May, scenes from “Avatar: The Last Airbender” have been in especially high demand for Amico, and it certainly shows on her art account’s feed.

The aforementioned are but a few examples of this unprecedented revolution for the online art community, and below there are some additional student artists listed who are worth checking out. As this abnormal semester progresses into whatever COVID-related fate lies ahead, it will be interesting to see what other trends might emerge on social media and beyond in response to the looming uncertainty and chaos of 2020. Despite all that has happened, this year will undoubtedly be remembered as an unforgettable time, and for some, a year of art.

@swikpaints — Mary Swikle

@drawingsbymedsker — Hannah Medsker

@fluorescent.jen — Jenna Kolano

@ryanw.art — Ryan Weicht