By Eve Nevelos, Editorial Staff ‘24

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” – Banksy, world-renowned street artist

As the world enters its twelfth month in quarantine, it feels as if there is little to do. Now, more than ever before, art is bringing people together- whether it be an activist group utilizing graphics or a visual representation of what self-isolation feels like posted on social media, there is a crowd rallying behind it, saying, ‘this is important.’

With galleries, museums, theatres, and cinemas closed, the art world looks very different. Google Arts & Culture has paired with several world-renowned museums, like the MoMA and le Musée d’Orsay, to provide free virtual tours to the public. More and more amateur artists have hosted their works on social media platforms like Instagram. With art becoming increasingly more accessible to the populace, how have people’s attitudes changed towards it?

An open letter was sent to France’s President Emmanuel Macron from just under 100 French museum directors saying, “At a time when many cultural institutions are considering the creation of spaces dedicated to well-being through art and artistic mediation, we wish to be able to take care of visitors now, because it seems essential to us that places of culture can once again offer a sensitive experience, necessary for mental well-being to face this crisis. […] Art, like health, helps heal the human soul.” Many museums internationally have been shut down temporarily, or even received funding cuts, as a result of the pandemic. Art is a vital part of culture and a measurement of societal progress. People thrive off of creating and consuming art. 

The art scene is prevalent at Indian Hills, with several clubs and classes dedicated to the fine arts. An overwhelming 96% of Indian Hills students who responded to a survey said that their consumption of art has increased over quarantine. Additionally, 63% of respondents said that they’ve created more art during quarantine than ever before. Although 53% of students said that their most viewed art channel is movies & television and 30% said videos & short films (primarily on YouTube), only 50% of those surveyed said that they’d definitely consider returning to a movie theatre once the curve is at a lower point. When asked if art brings them comfort, 97% of students responded that it does or sometimes does, an overwhelming majority.

Mr. Mungiello, an art and photography teacher here at IHHS, says on the topic of creating art amidst a pandemic, “The way we engage with art is the way we engage with our lives. A pandemic doesn’t stop life–it alters it. It changes it and living is about acknowledging the change and moving along in a way that makes you stronger, more fulfilled, and engaged with joy.” Mr. Mungiello continues, “When you read a book, listen to a song, look at a painting, watch a movie, etc. you are giving something that you don’t necessarily understand your attention. By doing that you automatically are giving it value. You’re not deciding if it’s good or bad. You’re just taking part in an experience, letting it wash over you. From that open space, you start to react to the language of the art; what the syntax is, what the colors are like, why the sounds are distorted or clean.” Through thoroughly experiencing art, it gives the brain permission to feel. He adds, “To me, art flexes the muscle of attention, empathy, and compassion. We all have that muscle, but decide to eat french fries instead of working it out. I do that most of the time, but sometimes if we can connect a bit deeper to an experience, even one as terrible as COVID we can find joy in the most narrow and dark of places. It can also serve as a reminder of what was lost, what mistakes were made, which can allow us to move forward in a compassionate and critical manner. I think the art that is made during this time will endure and remind us that through the worst of it we still chose to be honest, to care, and create joyful slivers of time.” Art creates landmarks in time. When making art, a choice is made to say ‘this is important and is worth recording.’

Students at Hills say:

  • Art is so important because it shows you how others look at the world, exposing you to different perspectives and ultimately opening your eyes to the true wonders of life.

– Abeer Shuja, Grade 9

  • Art is a great source of expression. It really allows me to process what I am thinking and feeling into a visual experience that helps me understand myself better. Especially during these difficult times, art has allowed me to break down complex thoughts and emotions into something visually pleasing, yet deep and insightful. 

– Jaclyn Kotora Grade 10

  • Art is important now more than ever because it allows people to escape from the current reality of the Coronavirus to find comfort and a connection to other people in a time where many feel isolated.

– Jaden Mayer-Costa, Grade 11

  • Art helps me express myself, especially in areas where I struggle with the right words

– Jennifer Mason, Grade 11

  • I love listening to music the most and music has played a large role in my life for as long as I can remember. I think especially now music is a vital source of morale and good nature 🙂

– Nicole Nowak, Grade 12

  • Over the quarantine, I dedicated my time to improving on my own artwork, and with that practice it got me to a point where I even changed my major to something art-related. Of course, taking animation class at school made a difference, but because I found art consumption and creation to be so therapeutic during the lonely quarantine, I am dedicating more time to art than ever. 

– Emma Kennedy, Grade 12

  • I find comfort in looking at art made in a different time, as well as now. I find a balance in the two because I think it makes the now more digestible.

– Krista Schwerzler, Grade 12

Will you consider dropping by Indian Hills’ art, photography, or movie club to gain personal insight into the effects of the creative process?