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Viral Art: Expression in Isolation

The latest COVID-19 Art of the Week has everything from professional magazine covers to schoolboy drawing, all with a poignant message.


When you’re deprived of the things that are your everyday life, it’s amazing what you discover about yourself.

Be it your freedom of movement, the ability to get your hands on a good coffee, socialising with friends - or even strangers - the lockdown has driven a new appreciation of different things for different people.

For example, parents around New Zealand have a new appreciation of teachers, as they navigate the fraught waters that are home-school. 

Some people are finding out new things about the people closest to them, building stronger relationships than ever before (some perhaps heading in the other direction).

And for many, there’s a new-found appreciation of expression. 

With more time on their hands, those hands are now, more than ever in recent times, putting down phones and picking up books, paintbrushes, pencils.

And for some, it’s allowing them to show their feelings over what is a defining moment for a generation.

The COVID-19 Art of the Week includes one of the biggest names in publishing - all the way to an Auckland primary school student - each expressing themselves in real, palpable ways.

Viral Art

After a poignant cover that showed frontline medical staff missing out on their families, the world-renowned New Yorker magazine (@newyorkermag) followed up with “After the Shift” by artist Owen Smith.  

We know how important the work medical professionals do is to stamp out this pandemic, but the toll it must be taking on them also needs to be acknowledged.

After the Shift. Image: Owen Smith/The New Yorker 

Anyone who’s been to the supermarket in the past couple of weeks knows what a bizarre experience it can be. Queuing for entry, social distancing, perspex glass. Chicago-based artist Daniel Zalkus (@zalkus) put his own feelings on the experience down on ink.


Going to the Supermarket isn’t for everyone though. Sticking with the food them, UK-based contemporary folk artist Sue Prince (@sueprinceartist) gives her own account of making the most out of what is in the pantry. Admit it, you’ve found things in your pantry you’ve forgotten about too.


Cabin fever is kicking in and wearing face masks went from something unusual to something as commonplace as wearing glasses. Syrian artist Shaza Wajjokh (@shaza.wajjokh) shows us inside her personal quarantine.


Facetime, Whatsapp, Zoom, Viber - they’ve all be lifelines to our social and family lives during the lockdown. But as great as it is, nothing beats the real thing. As LA artist Carly Miller (@carly.tif) succinctly puts it, “I miss my homies”. 


When your world goes from a town or city to just your four walls, sometimes you need to get creative to entertain yourself and others. The Amazing Jiro (@amazing_jiro) puts his incredible special effects skills to good use, creating one hand monsters from what’s around his house.  Parents, check out his account; they include instructions on how to replicate them (disclaimer: results may vary if you're not an intensely gifted body artist...).


We mentioned home-schooling a little earlier. Our final piece comes from such a project. Seven-year-old Preston Gourdie was studying artist Keith Haring’s recognisable piece Men Holding A Heart.

This is what he came up with - stating to his mum Kate (@gourdiekate) that right now, it’s the doctors and nurses holding up the world right now. Well said, young Preston.

Preston Gourdie (via @gourdiekate)

Do you have any #viralart to share? Tag @thebigideanz on Instagram or DM us - now is the time to be sharing our work to bring joy and inspiration when it's needed most.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

19 Apr 2020

The Big Idea Editor