Arts All Alone: Finding Creativity During Quarantine
by Anika Buder-Greenwood
After staring at the same wall for the 7th week in a row, inspiration can be hard to come by. Especially when creativity is often spurred by peers or events outside of our homes, it can be difficult for anyone to feel inclined to produce art during the quarantine.
Those who partook in any art form before quarantine seem to have mixed emotions toward their creative expression now. Whether the art form be visual arts, theatre, singing, dancing, or something else, some students feel completely blocked, while others feel an intense urge to create.
For Amadi Williams (‘21), who has just returned from a semester at the Oxbow School, the quarantine is not quite the welcome home she wished for. However, since she spent the last few months in Napa, California, constantly creating sculptures, drawings, paintings, and more, she still feels very artistically predisposed.
“Honestly I feel more of a creative drive; I want to use this time wisely and try to produce pieces that send messages and express certain people’s opinions and feelings, [as well as] my opinions and feelings,” she explained. “Although, emotionally I don’t have the same amount of drive as prior to the pandemic.”
Eli Harrell (‘20), who wouldn’t quite consider himself an artist, has also felt propelled to be artistic during this stay-at-home period. He has recently discovered and purchased a cyanotype kit, which is a photographic printing process influenced by light.
In expressing his feelings about productivity overall, Eli said: “I do think [the quarantine] has made me want to be more creative because I’m more bored. [The quarantine] just makes me more perceptive of my immediate surroundings, because I’m stuck in them, because I can’t constantly give myself new experiences and stimulation.”
While it took Khaja Daniel (‘21) some time to rediscover what art forms she really enjoys, she is now writing and singing almost every day. The catalyst for her was performing ‘Only Us’ for her chorus class, and now she constantly experiences bouts of creativity.
“[Singing] just makes me so happy and it gives me a reason to get out of bed sometimes. Because I will do my work in my bed, lay in my bed, and when I [sing] I have to go over to my mic, listen, and it just gives me something to look forward to,” Khaja said with a smile.
Some students, on the other hand, communicated that they feel less inspired overall, and partaking in their art form feels, in an odd way,wrong.
Julian Isikoff (‘20) usually loves to dance; he has taken four years of Packer dance classes, choreographed a dance concert piece for the second time this year, and you can often find him randomly breaking out into dance, whether it be on the weekends with his friends, or just in the stairwell on the way to class. Recently, though, he has felt very unenthusiastic about this art form that he usually loves so dearly.
“Of course [quarantine] gives me more free time. But that time is almost boundless, and it is so much time that I don’t feel motivated because there is not a set time for me to [dance],” said Julian. “It’s that feeling of hopelessness almost,” he added.
Simone Menard-Irvine (‘21), who has won multiple writing awards in the past, echoed a similar sentiment about her writing and visual arts undertakings.
“I have time to do [art], but for some reason, I can’t make myself do it. There are just no boundaries. If I don’t have a deadline and if I don’t have a strict amount of time for me to do something, then it is very hard for me to force myself to do it,” Simone said.
A lack of overall motivation or feeling creatively stunted are widely relatable emotions right now, and may be common feelings for many Packer students. But, for some, it may just take finding the right thing to be creatively inspired.
Drawing from the experience she had, Khaja tried to think of ways for others to also suddenly feel creatively inclined.
“Maybe you are not a singer or a dancer or a painter, but just watching other people engaging in the arts anywhere—by just looking at paintings online or listening to music—is interesting and can be very motivating,” she said.
Amadi had a similar message she wanted to share: “I want to just encourage other artists to keep going… I think my thing would be to just encourage [any type of artists] to really go with their art, to practice [art], and not to lose what they love so dearly.”