By Abbey Umali
When we first entered quarantine in March, no one expected it to last this long. Because of the lockdown, millions of people have lost their jobs, many businesses will never reopen, children have missed out on socialization that is crucial for their development, and the already-high rates of depression and suicide have increased dramatically. As humans, we are not meant to be separated from each other for such a long time. Interaction with each other is what allows us to grow, stay mentally and emotionally healthy, and move forward as a society in a positive way.
One of the most effective and meaningful ways people can connect with each other is through art. Although students across all disciplines have had a difficult time with the transition to “remote learning,” I have noticed that art students, in particular, have suffered in this online format. As a music student myself, I understand the frustration of trying to practice an instrument or participate in a choir over Zoom without human connection or immediate feedback. It broke my heart to witness many of my friends being forced to cancel their Senior Recital, an event that would have allowed them to showcase everything they worked for during their four years of college. Production on film and senior thesis projects came to a grinding halt and made students wonder if they would be able to graduate. The hard work that dance and theatre students put into their performances was wasted with no audience to share it with. Classes that were designed for collaboration and human interaction suddenly confined students to learn from their bedrooms, in front of a screen, alone.
This issue is not just specific to art students. So many of the opportunities to create and experience art communally have been taken away from us, and society has suffered because of it. Until we have this freedom again, it is up to us to find new ways to embrace our creative outlets and counteract the feelings of hopelessness and apathy that come with isolation.
Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself an artist, it is likely that you interact with some form of art on a daily basis. It might be listening to your favorite song, watching a movie you have never seen before, reading a fictional story, or even doodling in your notes during a Zoom lecture. Art is one of the few things that has the power to draw people together regardless of race, gender, religion, ability, socio-economic status, or any other classification meant to divide us.
There has never been a more important time to recognize and appreciate art than now, especially when many are attempting to erase our history and culture (e.g., the defacement and removal of statues of historical figures). In the words of John F. Kennedy, “If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him… We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”
I want The Hesperian’s Arts Section to be a space where people can display, analyze, discuss, and learn from various forms of art in a way that provides freedom for artists to reveal truths about our society and culture – including the parts that many of us might want to hide. We welcome writers who wish to use art as a tool to push back against the fear, isolation, and division that the lockdowns have caused.
The creation of art is essential, especially during quarantine and its aftermath, to prevent the desertion of our culture and preserve the beauty that comes from authentic connection and expression.
Abbey Umali is a senior at Chapman University and is double majoring in Psychology and Music with a minor in Disability Studies. She is serving as the Speaker of Senate and the Crean College Senator for the Student Government Association during the 2020-2021 academic year.