Whenever a new year begins I find myself alert and watching to see what will emerge in the news first. Often that issue, whatever it happens to be, will be the thing that shapes a particular year into something unique–whether that thing is a change in the political climate, emerging of unusual natural disasters or climate issues, social problems or what have you. Naturally, the beginning of a decade is even more interesting. So I watched with fascination to see what would emerge as newsworthy.
What emerged, immediately, as we began a new decade in 2020 was Coronavirus, a new viral strain that had not been previously identified in humans. After only a couple of months, this virus has taken over the news and put us all on high alert. Only yesterday the first confirmed case landed in my own city right here in Winnipeg, arriving unceremoniously via air travel from Vancouver. The news has widely reported on the potential for death and generously thrown around words like pandemic and quarantine and has urged us all to be “prepared” for the coming of the inevitable.
So what is a person to do in the face of such impending apocalyptic news? Like most things in life, our response to what is happening around us is all we really have control over. My response has been to paint this piece of art. And ultimately, this piece of art is all the potential response of society to what is happening in the news.
I have called it — “Isolation: The Epidemic of a New Decade”. I think the title really speaks for itself, but let me break it down for you a bit. This piece expresses the possibility that what will really affect us most about the presence of pandemic will not be the disease itself but the isolation that will result as we shut ourselves away from each other in an effort not to get sick.
Within the painting, you will see references to the coronavirus and medical symbols (eg, shapes of the virus at top of windows outside, medical glove as a balloon). The cake is a reference to the birth of a new decade (2020). Note that the main figure is standing alone and isolated inside (is this his home or is he in a hospital?). The figures on the outside of the window are loosely based on artwork painted in the 15th century during the time of the Black Plague. The mask he wears is a reference to the plague masks worn by doctors which they believed would prevent them from contracting the disease. To sum it up, this painting is meant to help us weigh the reality of the possibility of contracting the virus against the damage that too much isolation could do to us as humans. This feels like such a modern and current problem for us all as we walk into a new decade together.
The biggest question for me now, however, is: “Where on earth am I going to put this painting?” Anybody work for the CDC or some sort of research facility and want to purchase or borrow a thought-provoking work for a little while?
“Isolation: The Epidemic of a New Decade”
Oil on Canvas
48 x 36 inches