08:38 AM

Social distancing experiences expressed in social media

Recognizing the uncertainty and anxiety student might be feeling with the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancelling of in-person classes, Graphic Design Program Professor Leif Peng determined to give his first-year Graphic Design students an opportunity to express themselves about the crisis.

“Having not seen my two classes of first years, missing them and feeling concerned about their wellbeing, I decided to revise their final assignment,” said Professor Peng. “I proposed that we create an Instagram public service campaign called "Coping with COVID-19". I asked them to write a paragraph about how they are (or are not) coping with the pandemic, school, work, family life, etc. And then create a piece of art related to what they're currently experiencing.”

The result was a creative Instagram project that has captured a growing amount of attention. Peng created an Instagram page, called "We Cope Through Art," to showcase the students’ work. The students’ work has been praised on social media by professional illustrators who work for CBC, the New York Times, Penguin Book UK, Marvel & DC Comics, and by educators at OCAD, Ringling, University of Wisconsin, and by the Director of the Norman Rockwell Museum.

“It was a revelatory exercise,” Peng admitted. “Many pieces revealed deeply personal feelings and situations I had no idea about. Some of it is funny, some sad, some very moving writing and art - and all of it very honest and beautiful.”

The works seem to be a good reflection of the wide variety of emotions people across the community, and around the world, have experienced during this global pandemic.