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Creativity accelerated by COVID-19, students reflect on pandemic three years ago

Devyn Sapper
Senior Avery Guo works on a digital art project on her laptop. Guo said she uses a keyboard cover so that she can draw with her e-pencil without having to touch the screen.

The COVID-19 pandemic shackled many people to their houses for months on end. But for those like Avery Guo, president of the Artist’s Association and senior, this wasn’t such a bad thing. Over the course of the pandemic, Guo decided to take her devotion to art to the next level and spent extra time practicing new styles of drawing. 

Senior Avery Guo works on a piece of digital art in her art room the morning of March 6. Guo said she keeps most of her physical art projects at the school and works on digital art while at home. (Devyn Sapper)

“COVID… for me… it was a good thing. I got so much time at home and when you get so much time at home, you get more time to focus on your hobbies, right? (For me) that was mainly art,” Guo said. “(During) COVID, you stayed at home, it was fun, you can wake up whenever, you can draw forever–you can draw, for what? Five hours a day? You can’t really do that now.”

Many others shared Guo’s interest in improving creative skills during quarantine. A new study from the Paris Brain Institute displayed that out of the 343 participants involved, well over 50% reported being more creative in the midst of COVID-19. Between painting, cooking, sewing, writing and many other mediums, people started to use the lockdown to discover what they enjoyed and were good at doing and those discoveries are still affecting people today.

Guo founded the Artist’s Association in October 2021. The club gained traction that year and now boasts 72 members who are passionate about art. So far, the club has focused on using willow charcoal and oil pastels, but members practice all sorts of different mediums individually. Guo said that such mediums include brush pens, oil paint, acrylic paint and digital artwork.

“Normally, at school, you’d (use) more academic (art supplies), like charcoal, or oil pastel, or colored pencil and stuff,” Guo said. 

Senior Avery Guo works on an ongoing knitting project. Guo said she prefers knitting over crocheting because she finds it easier. (Devyn Sapper)

By forming the Artist’s Association, Guo said she wanted to give the students who found new ways to make art during the pandemic space to practice what they loved.

Artist’s Association sponsor Drew Murray said he agreed with Guo about how COVID aided people looking for new artistic mediums.

“I would say in terms of schoolwork, (student motivation) went down, but in terms of personal discovery, it went up,” Murray said. “People that maybe didn’t find interest in artwork or were looking for new mediums like fiber arts really took off during COVID.”

Art wasn’t the only way people expressed their creativity during the lockdown. For freshman Minhah Ali, creative writing was a way of filling time throughout the pandemic. 

Ali said she started out by looking at writing videos on YouTube to become more experienced, and eventually, she went out and shared ideas with other writers online, especially through Discord.

“I remember seeing this one person on my (TikTok) page,” Ali said. “They (pitched a writing idea), and I was like, ‘Well if you add this detail, that would make it plausible.’ And they go, ‘Oh my God, you’re right. Do you want to discuss this more?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ So we exchanged Discords.”

Guo said she had a similar perspective regarding finding people with similar artistic interests online. 

Senior Avery Guo draws in one of her sketchbooks. Guo said her ability to sketch faces by hand came from practice during the COVID-19 lockdown. (Devyn Sapper)

“During COVID, you’re online more, you talk to more people, you see more (artistic) ideas from different places,” Guo said. “Like, maybe you’re talking to someone in Germany or something—which is funny, because you’re like, ‘Wow. I’m in the Midwest in Indiana. I’m such a bumpkin. But I have a friend in Japan.’”

Even though quarantine enhanced Guo’s artistic abilities, she said she thinks those dedicated to art would have found time to improve anyway.

“But I think, even if we didn’t have COVID, everyone would still get better (at art),” Guo said. “Because if you’re really dedicated to (art), then you’ll still find that community and you’ll still end up doing these things. But I think COVID just really accelerated it.”

Caitlin Follman
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