As NIU and the world around us deals with a global pandemic, artists continue to find ways to express themselves. In the College of Visual and Performing arts the learning and teaching hasn’t stopped, it’s simply evolved to meet the needs and limitations of the situation. Over the coming days, we’ll be featuring how NIU students, alumni and faculty in the arts are continuing to do what they love. View the entire collection of NIU Artists. Never. Quit. submissions.

Final project in Beginning Illustration (Part Three). (Part OnePart Two.) Students needed to create pen and ink drawings that best represent your view of current events/state of affairs.

They had to consider current social, political, personal, educational, environmental, and financial aspects. Because of COVID-19 virus, we are currently living through a historically significant event that has the ability to change how we interact with nearly every aspect of our life, from school to work to social gathering, etc.

We also are experiencing other significant changes, such as our political system, environment, etc. Illustrators are in a position to make powerful commentary about current events through visual imagery.

Myel Simmons
We, as people who are currently free to roam the world with 6 feet as a safeguard, are spoiled. On the outside, people of privilege rally and cry about their ‘lack of freedom’ as they yearn for haircuts and deny the existence of a disease that has killed thousands. They complain from their ivory towers, calling quarantine a prison. Meanwhile, those who are actually incarcerated are not being catered to in recognition of this virus, but rather left to fend for themselves.

This composition is a piece that greatly reflects my discomfort and self-loathing during quarantine as a black woman. Many of us find solace through our hair, as it is something that makes us feel beautiful. In quarantine, I’ve had no choice but to leave it be, as I am not someone who knows what to do with my kinks and unmanageable curls. Because many non-black people can fix their hair by themselves, this is a singular happening that is very specific to the black experience.

With this composition, I sought to encapsulate the distance between the essential worker and the consumer. While in quarantine, I was in a position where I was constantly buying food, and there was nothing I could truly offer to the worker beside a tip and a hopeful ‘thank you’. This not only applies to deliveries but every curbside pickup, every drive-thru experience, and every face-to-face encounter.

Even in the middle of a pandemic, students were expected to put in 100% of the same effort they did while attending classes. non-remotely. To me, this seemed inconsiderate and terribly approached, as not all students have homes that allow them to make such a transition. Not all students have internet access or good families. Not all students can thrive in a classroom that doesn’t hold them accountable for being fully present. Not all students can function properly and work under the stress of a pandemic as their parents lose income, supplies become scarce, and hope starts to fade. Online-schooling was simply the bare minimum.

Are you a student, alumni or faculty member in the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts with video of yourself performing or creating, or photos of a finished product? Use this form to share it with us.