Quarantine brought out the DIY craft junkie in all of us. Instagram stories were peppered with extravagantly decorated focaccia, haphazardly knit sweaters, and valiant experimentations with oil paint. Tiktok, an app previously relegated to enterprising tweenage dancers, became the cultural centerpiece of a generation. Seemingly overnight, the platform saw millions of new users pouring hours into creating and consuming content. In these unprecedented times, why did artistic undertakings become our saving grace? Looking back at my relationship with art it became clear that art is not only a guiding force in my life but an escape. Just as turtles retreat into their shells or ostriches bury their heads in the sand when confronted with a physical threat, I have a penchant for diving headfirst into art when existence becomes overwhelming.
As a kid, my favorite method of escape was through books; they allowed me to take a break from my life and temporarily live in someone else’s story. The more I read the more I daydreamed, constructing my own stories and realities, allowing myself to become separated from the present. Nisha was sitting on a couch staring out the window, but I was a fabulous Parisian woman being wined and dined by the kind of people that wear ties during the day and tuxedos at night. I wore gowns like the ones my favorite princesses wore and everywhere I turned, a red carpet awaited.
My grandpa was a painter so there was always paint and brushes lying around the house. Armed with printer paper and a far larger blob of paint than I needed, I set out to make this woman real. Her dress was long and red and flowed gracefully even when there was no wind. A fabulous leg slit parted to reveal a rainbow lining that exploded across the page, and her luscious hair floated around her head as though she was underwater.
As I grew older, the connection between art and my fantasies became less literal, but on some level, I always recognized art as an escape from the many monotones of life. Art isn’t beholden to anything; it doesn’t care about age, money, or status. It transcends the limitations of the mind and allows us to explore the unknowableness of what it is to be human. We choose to paint, to dance, to sing without an expectation of anything in return. I often point to the time I spend creating art as the only time that I exist purely for myself. This leads me to wonder if the time I spend making art is the only time I am living. Before you write this sentiment off as a self-aggrandizing frivolity, consider how being alive has become akin to serving a function. We place all these requirements and expectations on our lives and forget that at our very foundation we simply exist and nothing more.
Thus, our current approach to life can leave us feeling unsettled at times. The spiritual, physical, mental, or psychic strain, brought on by quarantine, magnified this feeling and left many others feeling, as I did, that something was missing. Art fills all these gaps in our lives, making it the perfect salve for our frazzled state of being. Uneasiness, dissatisfaction, uproar, panic, and anxiousness are the driving forces behind art. With quarantine exacerbating these feelings it is unsurprising that we experienced a collective explosion of creativity. As we adjust to the new normal it will be interesting to see how the role of art is redefined in this post-covid world.
Creative Direction Isabel Roig
Words Nisha Mani
Photographs Anika Kumar
Editor Jonah Thornton
Stylist Jessica Zodicoff
Featuring Maria Sekyi, Noah Ginsberg, Maya Horn, Olivia Prunier Herman
Armour Magazine Season 25 — F/S 2020