Unpacking Pandemic Pondering

COVID-19 Anxiety: Location, Refuge and Loss titles a collaborative creation project among OCAD University, University of Manitoba, and Gallery 1313. Resulting from a year of creative research and community sharing, senior and emerging artists from three different spaces have produced multiple exhibitions that energize a dialogue on so many levels around climate change and the pandemic. Each university has facilitated two interrelated exhibitions by researchers/artists and by students. Two Gallery 1313 artists are exhibiting with OCAD researchers.

Unpacking Pandemic Pondering

This exhibition explores the rhizomatic and tentacular as an antidote to mimetic virality. The virus thrives on reproducibility and mutation to infect as many hosts as possible, whereas the rhizome is a powerful biological force for multiplicities and mutualism that nurture and sustain. In presenting the work of arts education students alongside senior researchers and artists, intergenerational networks of knowledge sharing flourish, providing fertile systems to contest the toxic virality imposed on the creative voice. Learner and teacher are never privileged one over the other but in constant flux. Students use creative practice to serve their proximate communities, while researchers and artists contemplate the significance of these interactions in grassroots approaches to overcoming the crisis of virus. Through these processes, webs of support evolve and sustain one another as networks of community care.

Unpacking Pandemic Pondering: Strain, Stress, and Subversion

Janine Arellano, Angie Ma, Pam Patterson, Daniel Payne, Mikael Sandblom, Leena Raudvee, Vicky Talwar.

For philosopher Gilles Deleuze, productions are collectively formed by a complex of bodies and environments; a complex that presents a series of plateaus or stratifications constantly becoming as they produce. The task of art, therefore, is not to reproduce mimetically, but to produce “signs” that will push us out of our habits of perception into the conditions of creation; a stance that tears apart the subject to create “discordant harmony.”  

As exhibition, unpacking pandemic pondering: strain, stress, and subversion present multiple still works on a looped video overlaid with a music/sound score, a matrix evocative of artist/researcher producing-produced-becoming as identities, bodies, and social expectations collide.

Smith, Daniel and John Protevi. “Gilles Deleuze,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta,   https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/deleuze/.

Angie Ma

  • ‘Small Pleasures’
  • watercolour print
  • 8.5 inches x 11 inches
  • 2021

Living through the instability of the pandemic has reminded me how important it is to practice mindfulness. Slowing down and looking with intention, this series is a visual diary of my thoughts, observations and changes along the way. An ode to small, daily pleasures within the chaos. I hope to connect to my viewer though these little moments, and to inspire others to take a deep breath and to keep on going!

Vicky Talwar

  • ‘Willing Release’
  • Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas
  • 30 x 40 inches
  • 2021

Reflecting on life’s transitoriness and the need to accept change and release trauma during this pandemic, I fuse the material and the spiritual using flower garlands, mala beads, and sacred threads to purify body and soul and demonstrate my unique experiences of double consciousness and cultural disruption. 

Mikael Sandblom

  • Twister Story’
  • Digital composite Image
  • Dimensions variable
  • 2020

‘Twister Story’ is based on a nightmare I had a few months into the pandemic. I’m with my family looking out over the lake. Dark storm clouds have moved in. Under the heaviest clouds a couple of twisters are reaching down. They hit the water and pull up massive waterspouts. I suddenly realize they’re headed our way. We turn to run, but all the buildings are inaccessible. Doors and windows are bricked up. Everywhere we turn there are only blind alleys and dead ends: blank, impenetrable brick walls everywhere, and the terrible roar behind us.

Pam Patterson

  • ‘World Upside Down’
  • Photo-digital print
  • 48 x 72 inches
  • 2021

COVID-19 – as with other epidemics – has impelled us into a time when the oft-assumed securities, provided to those of privilege, have been inaccessible to others. Sites representative of former colonial rule in Ireland are now emptied by past and present losses. Such images contribute to efforts for recognition, remembrance, solidarity, and cooperation.

Janine Arellano

  • GIF animation

In the shedding of self and the expectation of productivity in a time many have marked as ‘lost,’ I’ve found myself listening and watching for the subtle movements surrounding us in the natural world, in a simultaneously disjointed rhythm in sync.

Leena Raudvee

  • Masked Precarity’
  • Ink drawing on paper
  • 22 x 17 inches
  • 2021

This drawing emerges out of a daily drawing practice from the last year of COVID-19 fears, anxieties and isolation, superimposed, by necessity, on ongoing issues of vulnerability, disability and the precariousness of severely limited mobility.  As internal self-portraits, these drawings respond to changes in my internally-perceived emotional and physical body, as body in process, and become records of the evolving dis-eased body, engulfed in pandemic anxieties and seeking refuge in self-reflection.

Daniel Payne

My fragmentation of Bach’s Cello Suite #1 is inspired by Gilles Deleuze who sees the task of art as tearing apart the “subject” to create a “discordant harmony.” Prelude to a Pandemic is a tribute to analogue spliced tapes but adopts a sculptural approach to sound using additive principles. By highlighting the texture of the piece, I sonically distort the melodic line to represent the disjointed emotions prevalently felt during the pandemic lockdown. In contrast, the second movement of Suite #1, the Allemande, focusses on melodic lyricism. By using an unaltered recording, then layering bird songs recorded from my courtyard, I show how our local environment during the lockdown creates an aleatoric duet in our lives.

Prelude to a Pandemic: Ruminative Thinking on Bach’s Cello Suite #1

Backyard Allemande: An Aleatoric Duet (Bach Cello Suite #1)


Unpacking Pandemic Pondering: Pedagogies, Promises and Production

Kinzi Dempsey, Fabina Germain-Bajowa, Jeanie Lui, Deserae Lyons, Alex Milne, Changyi Mu, Niki Padbury, Judith Vijayasen, Agnew Wong

The following digital posters were produced by ADEL students as a means of representing communities or populations close to them. Each poster identifies the hardships their communities may be facing as a result of the ongoing pandemic, while foregrounding their resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity. The digital, reproducible nature of this project represents its ethos, to share community knowledge as broadly and accessibly as possible.

Kinzi Dempsey

  • MAKING ‘CREATIVE HOMES’ ONLINE: turning kitchen-conversations and dining room craft tables digital

How can we take ‘home’ to a digital space? I wonder if- like hunter-gatherers turned to mud and straw to make bricks for shelter in their transition to agriculture- we must look to the resources of social media to both accommodate and re-invent our lifestyles of creative practices. This idea of ‘home’ is at the core: Galleries have housed artworks and art-events, and similarly, my friends and I previously used our homes to connect via art and creative practices. Both of these homes are unavailable to us now by nature of their physical walls during this pandemic, and- whether we are excited pioneers or reluctant tech participants- we now seek ways platforms such as Instagram might be transformed into hospitable spaces for connectivity via creativity. Can features like ‘Stories’, ‘Reels’, ‘Tags’ and ‘Comments’ become the new dining room craft tables, kitchen-conversationsand arm-chair interactions?

Fabina Dermain – Bajowa

  • Untitled (Resources for Black Queer Youth in Toronto)

As a Black queer woman, my life experience has been dictated by my identity. As such, I see the struggle of Black queer youth around me every day and am all too aware of the difficulties they face. During a time when feelings of isolation and loneliness are rampant, it’s important for people who may not find solace in the spaces they are confined to, to know they have a community. In spaces intended to be safe for the 2SLGBTQ+ community, I have had experiences of anti-blackness, and spaces intended for Black folks can sometimes not be safe for the queer community. Often, Black queer youth feel out of place in spaces intended for them, and there simply aren’t enough resources that cater to both Black and 2SLGBTQ+ youth. I made this poster as a means of gathering  resources which provide services and programming for Black and 2SLGBTQ+ youth to be disseminated around Toronto and across social media. The goal of this poster is to provide information on the few organizations that do exist within Toronto and hopefully reach those who would need them most.

Jeanie Lui

  • Symbol express what words cannot…

Symbol is a token, an object broken into twain. It interprets thoughts, objects or pictures. We focus on daily reality; gradually neglect the fun of fantasy. In the process of express art therapy; therapist leads us to create happy thoughts and perceptions. It is an escape and outlet for stressful life. The COVID-19 pandemic is not a norm. It is a trauma; human brain chooses the negative thoughts over the positive. Expressive art helps the healing of the post-pandemic trauma.

Art expression is amazingly helpful for Special Needs kids. With one in sixty-six children and youth diagnosed with the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Ontario government had delayed the launch of the autism program because of the pandemic. The NGO plays a significant role to raise the public awareness and offer varies support. The virtual workshop targets the ASD kids of age six to seven. It is an interactive play “If you have a pair of wings”. Some craft kits of fabric wings will be designed. The play triggers the right brain activity with sensory and motor stimuli. It leads them to imagine and reveal the hidden thoughts.

Deserae Lyons

  • We are simply Managing Muskoka

The rural Muskoka District Community has always had minimal access to resources for youth and young women in particular. Through my research process for an outreach program, my connection to my hometown has deepened, and I have become better equipped at articulating the obstacles and challenges young women are facing during the continued wearisome pandemic. By raising awareness and bringing women together virtually, I seek to foster a “women supporting women” mentality. Isolation from the pandemic has led to an increase in mental health crises for varying ages and gender. Even before the pandemic women were predisposed to disconnect through systemic misogyny on social media. Virtual platforms have become a mainstay for COVID-19 interactions and keeping connected. As such, women are facing more drastic biases via unrealistic societal standards on social media platforms. I want to combat this by building safer spaces on social media for young women to acknowledge and critique these biases. A focus on the empowerment of individuals and the fostering of healthy relationships to self and others will strengthen both mental and physical awareness and allow for the development of positive communal initiatives.

Alex Milne


A theme that has resonated with me during COVID-19 is body positivity and equality among women. Being in quarantine for an entire year, there is no doubt that all our bodies have substantially changed. They may have gotten bigger, or perhaps smaller, they may have changed due to unforeseen circumstances or through the daily stresses of pandemic life. What cannot be denied however, is that womens bodies continue to be heavily scrutinized and devalued even in 2021. Whether our bodies are large or small, differently abled, or anything in between, we need to remember—especially during these difficult times—we all have value no matter our appearance or how we cope. The goal here is to keep motivating women to love themselves, even when they don’t want to. The plan is simple, to spread body positivity and awareness, recognizing that all bodies change over time. They conform to our surroundings and change under stress due to events often outside of our control. The goal for this poster is to make women feel confident in their own skin and to be okay with themselves and how they’re changing. What is really important to remember is that even though we are all struggling in different ways, we are all simply trying to persist.

Changyi Mu

  • Untitled

This poster asks the viewer about their experience of online school in 2020. With schools closed and non-essential workers being asked to say home until further notice, it’s important to remember online school is an emergency measure and not to be compared to homeschooling. Online school poses challenges for the whole family and in different ways. It is more complicated than adult work from home and often requires multiple family members to help address this issue. In conjunction with this poster, I have designed an activity for online school children who can invite their family members to join, or it can be a solo endeavour, just like Pac Man. In the poster, Pac Man is hunted by Blinky, Pinky and Inky who represent the mental, emotional, and physical challenges of online school. The only way to persevere is to keep moving. It is hard to make forward motion, but we have to stay positive and find ways to cope. But from another point of view, in this game we find ourselves, we have learned it is not easy to break us.

Niki Padbury

  • Do You Know What She’s Juggling?

This poster is a reflection of the impact that COVID-19 has had on women as a population. History has shown us time and again that women are often the ones left to carry the emotional burden when hardships fall upon our society collectively. The bubbles in the image represent the precarity of the situation: this woman is in a juggling act that she must perform to keep life afloat for her family and herself. Because she is expected to perform this act instinctively, her own needs often go unnoticed and she’s left feeling isolated and exhausted. My poster, “Do You Know What She’s Juggling?” draws our attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle realities of Woman during the pandemic, reminding us of the expectations that are placed on Her in times of adversity.

Judith Vijayasen

  • Can I go Outside?

How has Covid-19 affected the mental health of children with learning disabilities? Over the past year, many lives have undergone significant changes due to the ongoing pandemic, one population experiencing these adversities are children. My DIGI cover looks at the new norm in children’s lives through a critical lens. In this illustration, I presented a child in a dark room, about to tap an answer to the question on the screen. I wanted to represent the binary options “yes” or “no” that is constantly part of our mindset due to the circumstances of online and at-home learning. This mentality can feel limiting and can make education assistance, mental health needs, and social-economic needs seem black and white. How can we provide diverse activities, bring back an active routine using art, and reduce the levels of stress, anxiety, while removing barriers for minority groups?

Agnes Wong

  • Letters to No One

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly shaken the whole world with devastating consequences and seemingly permanent impacts on our daily lives. In this gloomy time of isolation, paranoia, and fear studies have shown that those with existing mood disorders and issues with mental health are experiencing a heightened feeling of despair, alongside an increase of symptoms. Not only has the global pandemic affected how we live and communicate in our everyday, but a countless number of those whose condition of life was severely impacted since late 2019. Letters to No One is a project that seeks to create a virtual community of empathy and understanding by inviting anyone to share their feelings or worries during the pandemic that they might not feel comfortable expressing directly to others, or perhaps they simply lack an outlet. Through the physical act of recording down these often intangible thoughts onto paper- a cathartic experience in itself- these anonymous letters “to no one in particular” can then be viewed on a dedicated Instagram account, hopefully initiating dialogue and discussions by others in this virtual community.

From the University of Manitoba:

COVID-19 Anxiety in the Age of the Anthropocene is a project stemming from the larger work entitled COVID-19 Anxiety: Location, Refuge and Loss (2020-2021) and is an artistic collaboration with Joanna Black, Professor, University of Manitoba (U of M), Dr. Pam Patterson, Assistant Professor, OCAD University (OCADU), and Daniel Payne, Librarian and artist (OCADU).

Our collaborative creative research teams at UofM and OCADU are committed to working within communities of practice. We are examining the conceivable and imagined possibilities of generative creative research during COVID-19 in which anxiety surrounds and permeates through our lived experiences and is embodied in our creative practice.

Joanna Black

  • Covid-19 Spaces: Self Portrait
  • 12.8″ X 13.4″
  • digital photograph

Lifelines, isolation, agitation, communication, togetherness, embodied knowing, rare metals, information, over-saturation, silicon wafers, transporting, aloneness and absorption… During COVID-19, while looking into glass wired binary mazes, Marshall McLuhan’s statement isparticularly relevant of “descending into the maelstrom” using technological life preservers to foster manic curiosity, layers of ongoing communication, and intractable anxiety as our vital networked sustenance continues on…

Sarah Paradis

  • [Dis]connection
  • Video Still
  • 1920 x 1080
  • 2021

[Dis]connection is a video created by Sarah Paradis about how social interactions have become limited during the covid-19 pandemic. Several themes that emerge from the video include social distancing, mask wearing, and inquisitive interactions among computer screens and other digital devices. The movements in the video reflect how humans are engaging with each other as well as computer screens in a limited way. Paradis’ video is responding to the social [Dis]connection that our generation is currently experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


COVID-19 Anxiety in the Age of the Anthropocene University of Manitoba Digicover site: https://digicovers.ca/

The student artworks represent art created by thirty-eight students at the University of Manitoba from two classes who produced digiCOVERS. All students have undergraduate degrees in a variety of subjects (ranging from Mathematics, Physical Education, Visual Art, and Human Ecology, to History, Drama, and Music)






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