The year 2020 probably wasn’t what you’d hoped for, but adversity often leads to creativity. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected how we live our lives; and, for many of us, life feels like it’s been put on hold. With all this extra time on our hands, many people have taken up new crafts and are using art as a way to respond to the crisis.
In this list, we’ve included our round up of the most creative projects created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which bring messages of hope, resilience, and support.
Check out the top 19 pandemic-inspired creative projects of 2020.
Photography and Photo Art
Our Great Indoors by Erin Sullivan
With closed borders and limited flights, Los Angeles-based travel photographer Erin Sullivan found herself spending an usual amount of time at home this year. When California went into lockdown in mid-March, she began thinking about how she can stay creative while being indoors. The resourceful photographer came up with the idea to create miniature outdoor scenes featuring toy figurines, food, and other household objects. Her series, aptly titled Our Great Indoors, impressively captures the excitement of exploring nature, without ever leaving home.
Find out more about Sullivan’s Our Great Indoors photo series here.
In Flight by Mark Harvey
Animal photographer Mark Harvey is renowned for his beautiful portraits of horses. However, when COVID-19 lockdown began, he looked for a new subject closer to his home. He began photographing the local magpies, blue tits, and starlings in the nearby wilderness of his home of Norfolk, England. Each breathtaking photo was taken with a medium-format Hasselblad camera, and captures the feathery subjects mid-flight.
“There’s no doubt that the pandemic has forced us to adopt a much slower pace of life. Having lived in Norfolk on and off for over 20 years now, I took the opportunity during the spring to spend more time immersed in the wild, whilst appreciating the nature that is on my doorstep,” he said of the series. “Being more closely connected with nature certainly brings a great sense of calm and the closer I looked, the more beauty I saw in these refined animals.”
See more from Harvey’s In Flight series here.
AIRPORTS by Tom Hegen
German aerial photographer Tom Hegen is known for his abstract shots of landscapes from above, including salt ponds and tulip fields. During lockdown, he documented this unusual and historic time by photographing the grounded airplanes at six German airports. The eye-catching, symmetrical compositions show planes parked on runways from a bird's-eye view. A visualization of the world’s current standstill, the series of 100 photographs leave us contemplating the necessity of travel.
Read our interview with Hegen here.
Miniature Calendar by Tanaka Tatsuya
Japanese artist Tanaka Tatsuya has been crafting miniature scenes from everyday objects for almost 10 years, but his most recent work has been given a COVID-19 twist. His ongoing series, Miniature Calendar, sees disposable face masks, toilet paper, and other health and safety essentials repurposed as props for miniature outdoor adventure scenes with tiny figurines.
See more from Tatsuya’s pandemic-themed scenes here.
Photo Collage by Nathan Wyburn
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Inspired by those working tirelessly on the front lines, Cardiff-based artist Nathan Wyburn created a photo collage tribute to hospital workers. It’s made from over 200 photos of NHS doctors and nurses. “This is my THANK YOU for your hard work, your courage, and your heart during this trying time,” he says. “It’s emotional to me as this collage also contains many of my best friends. You’re all superheroes.”
Virus-Inspired Murals by Hijack
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LA-based artist Hijack captures this “momentous time” through his street murals. His tongue-in-cheek works are a social commentary on the “new normal.” This piece, titled Love in the Time of Quarantine, illustrates the act of social distancing. “Six feet of distance makes the heart grow fonder,” he says. “Or just more randy.”
Projections of Hands Clapping for Essential Workers by Ian Berry
London-based artist Ian Berry collaborated with his 6-year-old son Elliott to create an empowering message of support for essential workers on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though he usually works in denim to create grandiose scenes filled with intricate details, Berry decided to simplify his artistic rendering and go digital. His son took photographs of his hands clapping, which he then translated into denim. Berry then projected images of his denim hands all across the world, inviting others to participate by saying what and who they clap for each night.
You can learn more about Berry's project and how the interactive element reach all corners of the world here.
Bread Art by Blondie + Rye
Many of us have been spending more time in the kitchen since the pandemic began, but baking bread has made a particular culinary renaissance. Baker and high school history teacher Hannah P., aka Blondie + Rye, has been getting creative with carbs this year. She’s been making beautiful “bread bouquets” by decorating flatbreads with colorful veggies. She’s also been making appetizing loaves of sourdough, flatbreads, and filled buns featuring hand-carved designs on the crust. We wish we could spend lockdown in her kitchen!
Something For Our Furry Friends
Gerbil Art Museum by Filippo Lorenzin and Marianna Benetti
Boredom can often be the catalyst for crazy (but brilliant) ideas, and that’s exactly how one London-based couple came up with theirs. On their 14th day in quarantine, Filippo Lorenzin (an independent curator at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum) and artist Marianna Benetti created a miniature art museum for their pet gerbils, Pandoro & Tiramisù. Made from cardboard, paper, and wood, the mini gallery features gerbil versions of famous artworks, including Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Scream—plus, many more details.
Find out more about the gerbil art museum here.
Reptilian Art Gallery
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Inspired by the gerbil art museum, Dallas-based actor Jill Young created her own version for her 5-year-old crested gecko, aka The Mayor. The DIY “Gecko Museum” displays hand-painted lizard remakes of famous artworks, including American Gecko, a nod to Grant Wood’s American Gothic and a gecko version of Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.
“The Mayor has a refined and eclectic taste,” says Young. “I wanted to cover a range of art genres and pieces in hopes of winning his respect.” Luckily, the exhibition opening night was a huge success. Young recalls, “The Mayor was particularly fond of my ‘American Gothic’ spoof, ‘American Gecko.’ I guess he’s in an American Modernism phase.”
Find out more about the Gecko Museum here.
Home Art Challenges
Getty Museum Challenge
Many museums have had to close this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy their collections. The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles found a way to keep fans engaged by challenging its social media followers to “recreate a work of art with objects (and people).” Art lovers started recreating famous paintings from random things in their homes, and the results were pretty incredible.
Check out more from the Getty Museum Challenge here.
Similar to the Getty Museum Challenge, the Quearteencasa challenge invited would-be museum-goers to become the art themselves (since they can’t view it in a gallery). The popular Spanish Facebook group encouraged their followers to select their favorite work of art and use objects around the house to recreate it. Of course, people didn’t hold back, and the Internet delivered.
Find more of the fantastic Quearteencasa entries here.
Senior Citizens Recreate Iconic Music Album Covers
Since the pandemic began, senior care homes around the world have been living in strict lockdowns. Understandably, this has been tough for many residents who are missing their family, so Sydmar Lodge Care Home in Edgware, England decided to do something to keep their spirits up. Activities coordinator Robert Speker planned a brilliant music-themed photoshoot. Each resident recreated famous album covers by turning themselves into musical icons, from David Bowie to Taylor Swift.
See more reimagined album covers here.
Pretty Floral Murals by Nathalie Lété
Since we’re spending so much time in our own homes, we’re likely to have made some changes to our decor. But French artist Nathalie Lété took interior updates to a whole new, beautiful level. She kept busy during lockdown by transforming her country house into a colorful, floral wonderland. She painted almost every surface in charming flower paintings. “I bought this house three years ago,” Lété tells My Modern Met. “My dream since I was a teenager was to have my own house filled with my art.”
Find out more about Lété's floral cottage here.
Quarantine Doodles by artistVik
When an artist called Viktorija (aka artistVik) found herself stuck in quarantine, she started a daily, creative ritual. She’s known for creating cards and ceramics, but she decided to challenge herself to creating art on a much larger canvas—her own home walls. Using her day-to-day life as inspiration, she painted a daily doodle on her wall as a visual diary. What started during quarantine ended up as a 113-day project. “I worked on it every day without knowing how many days it would take to finish it, and after 113 days it was finally done,” Viktorija told my Modern Met. “I wouldn’t do it again as it did feel like ‘a must’ every day, but otherwise it was a very good way of keeping focused and occupied during the lockdown.”
Find out more about Viktorija's wall art here.
#COVIDlife Illustrations by Irina BloK
The pandemic is no joke, but in a bid to “provide some comic relief from our daily struggles,” Silicon Valley-based Irina Blok has created a series of funny, COVID-inspired illustrations. She shows how things have changed since the pandemic began with side-by-side “before and after” illustrations. Each drawing is comically relatable, and allows us to take comfort in the fact that many of us are going through similar things—such as empty social calendars.
See more from Blok’s #COVIDlife illustration series here.
Creative Face Masks
See-Through Mask by Ashley Lawrence
By now, most of us are very used to wearing face masks. However, unless you’re a pro at “smizing,” it’s impossible to show your happy face to those around you. But more importantly, masks also make it impossible for the deaf and hard of hearing to communicate. That’s why Kentucky-based, 21-year-old college student Ashley Lawrence designed a reusable face mask with a see-through window. Lawrence cleverly modified the standard mask by using translucent plastic fabric for the window. She launched her idea on GoFundMe, and reached her goal! She is now distributing her masks to anyone who needs one, free of charge.
Find out more about Lawrence’s mask design here.
Ramen Mask by Takahiro Shibata
While most people are opting for simple, cloth face masks, others are getting creative. Japanese artist Takahiro Shibata created this 3D mask that looks like you’re wearing half a bowl of ramen on your face. It features model replicas of all the right ingredients, plus, if you have glasses, the trapped air from your mouth seeps up to look like the “bowl” is steaming hot.
Find out more about Shibata's ramen mask here.
Alien-Inspired Facehugger by Pirate’s Leatherworks
Perfect for giving customers at your local supermarket a fright, artisanal leather worker James (of Pirate’s Leatherworks) crafted an amazing Alien-inspired facehugger mask. The hand-sewn design features eight long, finger-like legs and a creepy, spine-like tail. Don’t worry though—this particular parasitoid isn’t looking for a host. It simply helps to keep you and others safe from COVID-19.
Find out more about the Facehugger mask here.