The artworks below represent ten students who have received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree and are being trained to teach in secondary schools. Each student created their own digiCOVER.
I created this piece to show grief and loss during COVID-19. I had lost my Kokume (Grandmother) to the pandemic on December 21, 2020. She came to Winnipeg from our home community of Norway House Cree Nation to seek medical treatment. While she was in the hospital from November 1st, 2020 to her passing, she was not allowed any visitors due to COVID-19 restrictions. Although the hospital and its staff tried to keep all patients safe, they were unable to stop the virus from spreading. My Kokume caught the virus and her health declined so fast we barely got to say goodbye to her. My aunt and I were not allowed to hold her hand or kiss her goodbye; we were only allowed to see her through a window as she passed. We need to protect our elders better and those who cannot fight this virus.
I remember opening my grandmother Lilly’s matryoshka dolls on the carpet of her apartment when I was just old enough to walk. She taught my mother to sew, and then me. In my adult hands, these nesting dolls represent family, matrilineality, and the connections that exist across generations. Lilly’s Mask addresses the vulnerability of seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects that isolation is having on families. The dolls are separated, bubbled away and suspended in the air, protected by their masks and by the knowledge threaded around them. I included lines of connection in my images as we are connected through our stories even in isolation. When we are alone we reflect. We remember those threads of knowledge passed down to us. What she taught me about our culture, the stories she told me, and the wisdom she shared are all sewn into my memory. While we cannot be next to each other today, our histories and memories keep us threaded together.
URL to digiART: https://dreamsinaquamarine-blog.tumblr.com/
Stress Levels Rising
Stress Levels Rising, is an artwork in which I speak about COVID-19 and the educational system. COVID has made an impact on students and not in a positive way. Using Photoshop, I represent the struggles of people in education feeling so overwhelmed they feel as though they are drowning. Young people in high school are feeling the stress of COVID with detrimental effects on their mental health. I use multiples in this piece to push this feeling of stress and anxiety that these youth are feeling.
Inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, my work is an exploration of mental health and the concept of toxic positivity that is stifling the workplace. Employing the essence of the avant-garde movement, Dadaism, in this piece I use satire to point out the hypocrisy of mental health advocation within the education system. Clichés are the band-aids, provided only to cover the wound, giving a quick and ineffective solution to the problem of mental health.
In this digital collage I aim to address issues surrounding education while moving through a global pandemic. Our world is under crisis, education policy makers are trying to make decisions based on the needs of economic stability while seemingly placing the health and wellness of those in the actual schools aside. While people in schools try to move through their days with some semblances of normalcy, many educators are made to feel like circus performers; acting out near impossible tasks to keep the education complex running.
I’m just going to sail away awhile
And try to make sense of the joy
And the pain
Of being together
To figure out this new way of being
And wait to see
Where we all end up.
This work was inspired by a report from UN Women about the rise of gendered violence due to the pandemic and accompanying circumstances. After further research my intention in creating this series was to shed light on what is being called the “Shadow Pandemic”. The black and white imagery serves two purposes for me. One, it plays with the literal idea of images being in the shadows, and second, connects me with feelings of being isolated, trapped or helpless, and without resources. I used myself as a subject due to covid restrictions.
Among the incredible challenges and strains healthcare workers face daily, COVID 19 has had a tremendous impact. Burnout, fatigue, anxiety, stress, and the overall well-being of our healthcare workers is steadily impacting their lives. In my artwork, RED, I am unveiling the suffocation that our healthcare workers face during COVID-19. Through portraiture and manipulation, I have created a haze of healthcare workers where glimpses into their everyday lives are seen –ultimately obscuring their identity. The idea of identity of these workers is important to me because these incredible people are often left faceless and nameless, which is why I obscured these images. My influence for this work was my own mother, working tirelessly on the frontlines every day. The title RED encapsulates the tense anxiety which is present while working with a code red patient – which means a positive COVID 19 person so sick within the hospital.
COVID Teacher’s Brain
This chaotic imagery provides a look inside a teacher’s mind while teaching during COVID-19, and highlights the fact that life is stressful. There are many new precautions: so much so that the once-normal day in educators’ lives is now blurred. Teachers and school staff have added stresses on top of their regular duties contributing to many educators becoming overwhelmed. In this work I aim to promote mental health awareness for those working in education during COVID-19.
I Carried A Watermelon
I’ve always been drawn to making works that take on a visual and poetic tone. My artwork is about the loneliness and anxiety people have experienced during the isolated time of the COVID 19 pandemic. Nostalgia became a kind of narcotic, where people streamed movies and television endlessly re-watching and consuming media. It was very clear that the government and health officials did not have enough mental health supports for people who were feeling the effects of quarantine and closure. I would go a step further, and say that the COVID pandemic exposed a total lack of respect for mental illness. We are told that physical health is just as important as mental health, but this is a shallow effort. We have left people alone in hospitals to die and alone in the confines of their homes isolated and in despair mindlessly getting lost in media.