“When times were most uncertain, being creative provided security and structure”
Working and studying online have been a challenge to many students this past year. Participating in class has become one of the few ways to be able to engage with peers and lecturers, but to many it has come with much pressure and anxiety.
Every time you unmute yourself, you are aware of the number of people listening to you, your participation is being recorded, and you don’t see or hear immediate responses. Your contribution might be misinterpreted due to a loss of intonation and body language or faltering Wi-Fi. As a non-native English speaker with dyslexia, I have always found it difficult to find the right words to coherently express my thoughts, ideas and opinions. This worsened during the lockdown as casual conversations in English became infrequent. All these factors limiting ways of expression can feel like your identity being reduced to one of the black squares on Zoom with your name on it.
The Quarantine Creativity exhibition shows that being creative has been a coping mechanism during lockdown. When times were most uncertain, being creative provided security and structure. It may have helped with expressing emotions and making sense of them. Painting, reading or dancing have allowed us to explore new worlds and perspectives while staying in the same physical space. For me, making music has created space for creativity in developing ideas, thoughts and opinions and in turn, expressing these in my academic and personal life.
However, lockdown and studying or working online can leave you feeling exhausted, where being creative suddenly becomes a chore. Coming up with the angle of your next assignment or playing the piano for 15 minutes may feel like impossible tasks when being in lockdown. Connecting with people with similar creative interests might help overcome this exhaustion, such as online poetry groups or joining a dance class from your bedroom.
Creativity can give us space for expression beyond our online Zoom square. For me, contributing to this exhibition has personally felt like exposing a personal piece of myself. But seeing everyone else’s use of creativity during lockdown and beyond has been incredibly inspiring and has made me feel more connected to my peers and staff than ever before.