Art during COVID- How the pandemic stimulated creativity

Without a doubt, the past year has been life-changing for everyone around the world. When times were tough, they only got tougher as time moved on. Everyday life seemed almost insurmountable. Even though hope and happiness were hard to come by, not all of it was lost. There was one thing in particular that people around the world, including students at NAHS, used to cope with the pandemic’s unforgiving events: art. 

Art and its many forms have had quite the metamorphosis in the last year. Many artists, whether it be musicians, actors, or traditional canvas artists, found themselves struck with a creative overflow of electric and dynamic ideas that they could use to create life-changing art. Just look at some examples on a worldwide scale: Taylor Swift wrote and produced two albums created entirely in isolation, TikTok creators crafted an entire musical based on the 2007 film Ratatouille (which you can learn more about here), and many everyday Americans took up different crafts and hobbies in order to fill up extra time. In the coming years, pandemic-inspired films (whether it be movies based on these times or films that sparked inspiration in a director’s mind while in quarantine) will hit screens across the globe. It seems as though there’s been a creative boom that’s inspiring artists of all kinds to make new and inventive art. 

At North Attleboro High School, art has always been a major part of daily life. Before the school underwent aesthetic renovations, colorful murals ran across the walls of the cafeteria. Painted ceiling boards hang above Mr. Holster’s classroom. A massive mural of the famous main character from The Rocketeer is sprawled across the gym wall. Essentially, art is one of the many consistencies about NAHS. And who makes art a major part of NAHS culture? The students, of course. 

Senior Savannah Bankert is one of the most artistically involved students NAHS has to offer. She participates in almost every art-based program the school has to offer, ranging from studio art classes to the school’s improv troupe. She even designed the school’s 2021 yearbook cover (more details to come on that). In a word, Bankert is inspired by art, and it’s a part of her identity. So, how did the pandemic inspire Bankert to create?

Well, it started with the 2021’s yearbook theme, which is inspired by movies and various Hollywood aesthetics. This year, Bankert was given the task of creating the cover for such a broad, vivacious theme- and because of this pandemic, she was allowed to break the mold and be a little more creative.

“I thought of Marvel when I went to design the cover. I was looking for something with more of a graphic appeal, less pictures and more artistry. I came across the poster for Ant-Man and the Wasp and it had this diagonal design and I thought ‘that’s perfect!’” she said.

Bankert also says the pandemic definitely influenced the creation of the cover, specifically the process in order to create it. “I think, with the pandemic, the timing made things really tricky. Because of COVID, everything was messed up and it was hard to find inspiration. Taking pictures was hard because of the pandemic. Honestly, I think the whole ‘remoteness’ of it all was hard. It would’ve been a lot easier if things weren’t this way.” 

Despite all of this, Bankert still has positive things to say about the design she came up with, and is definitely content with how the cover turned out. 

“I feel like it’s a very dynamic cover,” she said. “Last year’s design was beautiful and fit the theme perfectly. I had to step it up this year and make it unique to this year’s theme! I think I’m most proud that I made it all myself. It has people spotlighted, just like a movie poster would. It isn’t just red and white, either, it has many colors and I think that’s great. It’ll stick out on the shelf.” 

NAHS students aren’t just taking inspiration from broad topics to create art- they’re making art inspired by art. Over the summer, pop superstar Taylor Swift surprise-released her eighth studio album folklore, and followed it up with a sister album titled evermore in December. Although many people said they were inspired by the records and fell in love with the songs, senior Belle Clarkin took this to a whole new level.

Clarkin decided that she wanted to paint the songs as she listened to them for the first time (which you can see a visual representation of in this article’s cover photo). She did so because she felt such “strong emotion” during all of the album’s tracks, and wanted to find a proper way to capture her feelings as she listened. 

“I felt so many specific emotions and feelings that I wanted to represent through colors and shapes. After about the first 30 seconds into the first song, I shut it off and decided to paint the entire first listen to capture my true first feelings of the music,” she says. 

Clarkin also further detailed how she felt “such a specific feeling” when first listening to the album. “The music creates such a specific feeling and picture for me. Every song has nuanced colors and emotions that it represents, aided by not only the lyrics, but the complexity of the backtrack, tempo, and structure of the music,” Clarkin says. 

So, it seems the pandemic has definitely inspired artists and given people the chance to exercise the creative outlets they weren’t even sure they had. Whether it’s art, music, theatre, or anything in between, one thing is clear: Art is a coping mechanism and brings light to the world in dark times.

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