Our visual artifacts project was inspired by the Social Science Research Council’s creation of what they called “A Time Capsule for Future Social Science Researchers.” Students were asked to create a visual representation of their lives under Covid and to write a paragraph or two explaining the significance of that image for them.

Kayla Allen-Brown

“This picture is from a protest I attended in Indianapolis this summer. This protest was the first one I ever attended. At first, I struggled to decide if I wanted to go because of the risk of COVID and the potential of being harassed by the police. When questioned about my decision to go, I responded by saying, “well, I can die from the coronavirus, or I can die because of police brutality.” The group spent the evening peacefully marching and chanting around downtown Indianapolis. People were passing out water and hand sanitizer. Towards sunset, the atmosphere changed. The crowd eventually came to a halt, and IMPD threw teargas bombs. We started running away from the teargas. It was very chaotic. I was running in front of the group, but I saw more vans of IMPD officers in protest gear. I made it home safely. I later watched rubber bullets aimed at the fleeting crowd.

“Though the Black Lives Matter protests received a lot of negative attention this summer, I am glad I went. I would go again tomorrow. It allowed me to find an outlet for my anger and sadness. Also, the others in the crowd and their signs gave me a relief that I am not alone. This photo also signifies the moment I realized that the Black community was fighting multiple forms of oppression which now included the coronavirus. We must find ways to abolish the various forms oppression to make our society more equitable for everyone.”

Nicole Blackburn

“Covid-19 changed the way that many of us were able to seek out recreational activities and stress-relief in a variety of ways. Public, in-person activities like shopping, restaurants, concerts, or going to the gym were essentially cut-off. Although some state or country regulations permitted restricted access to these spaces many people chose to follow CDC recommendations and avoid those spaces altogether. In addition to cutting off popular recreational activities, Covid-19 also greatly increased the amount of stress people experienced on a daily basis. I personally experienced greater stress due to the worry of working with the public, doing university work from home where I felt less focused and productive, and a sense of social isolation especially as an extrovert. Developing hobbies and other activities in order to provide variety and interest in the otherwise monotonous time of doing almost everything at home was extremely important.

“Like many others, I started to invest in learning how to cook new recipes or taking on more intensive baking projects. This made the whole process of feeding oneself much more interesting in a way that trying new restaurants would be and helps contribute to a feeling of accomplishment and skill development. I chose this picture because it one of the most intensive recipe and was incredibly delicious. It is a clementine cake inspired by the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring Ben Stiller. I believe the clementine cake is a Jewish tradition and would likely have been in the movie thanks to Ben Stiller’s Jewish heritage. I found the recipe through a YouTube channel I enjoy called Binging with Babish. He often does recipes inspired by different TV shows and movies, so this recipe is his interpretation on other recipes he researched and the information available in the movie. One of the best parts of the recipe is that it also produces a clementine simple syrup that can be used in other recipes or drinks.

“There were likely other images I could have chosen for this project that could have encapsulated the stress or frustration of how elected officials and individuals handled the Covid-19 pandemic. However, I wanted to focus on of the methods I used to try and not succumb to the doom and gloom that would have been very possible.”

Heather Blankenbaker

“The image I chose for the visual time capsule is a picture of the dinosaurs at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum wearing masks. During the summer, when my friend and I would take our daily walks we would routinely pass the dinosaurs and laugh about the masks. Due to the size of the masks, each one fitting the face size of the dinosaurs and undeniably gigantic, we wondered if they were special ordered or someone made them locally.

“I think that this image is very telling of where we are in this current period of history. The fact that not only is the whole world wearing masks, but now even these inanimate objects are too. I wonder if they chose to put the masks on the dinosaurs to encourage mask wearing almost sending the message of “if the dinosaurs are wearing one then you should be too,” or if it was for more of a quirky, fun thing to do. Maybe even a way to show the community that they are not alone and to make the situation a little more light-hearted. During Halloween the dinosaurs also wore witch hats, accompanied by the masks. Regardless of the reason, I never would have thought that the dinosaurs I looked forward to seeing on our walks would ever end up wearing medical masks.”

Jackie Carnaghi

Titled “Hanging onto Hope

“Hanging onto hope can mean a plethora of emotions to most families, individuals, communities, stores, and many other establishments. Most of the world is currently hanging onto hope. Hopefulness is a funny feeling one can acquire in the darkest of times. The definition of hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen” (Miami Dictionary). An example of hope for a family is in the photo that I chose for this project.

“My grandpa has severe Alzheimer’s, and when the pandemic was at the early stages of devastation, his nursing home went into complete lockdown.  Leaving his entire unit solely isolated. There were moments during the long span of five weeks where he would forget to eat, bathe, and part-take in any other everyday mundane task. Not being able to check in on him was hard, and we were hanging onto hope that the nursing staff was able to give him the most optimal care that someone in his state needed.

“One day, my mom and I received a call asking if we would want to see my grandpa for the first time in three weeks. We were in complete shock but were so excited that we could even see him for a brief moment. After that phone call, the usual drive of twenty minutes only took ten. Getting to see him through the glass was an unbelievable emotional moment that I will never be able to describe. We all were hanging onto hope that we could have this moment together, being able to see each other face to face, seeing his smile once again. The pandemic may have taken hugging, laughing, and touching away, but it will never take away the hope a family feels after seeing their loved one once again.”

Danny Carroll

“The first email came on March 10, 2020. All face-to-face classes on all Indiana University campuses would be temporarily suspended. The second email came on March 11,2020. All face-to-face instruction at my sons’ school would be suspended indefinitely. In a matter of two days, four individuals would have to navigate school, work, and life in a 900 square foot space as the coronavirus swept over the United States.

“My family did the best we could in creating individual spaces that would allow for privacy and was conducive for work and school. We purchased small desks/tables for each of my sons’ rooms. I brought up an old desk from our basement that my wife commandeered and set up in the dining room. As a doctoral student, I needed a space that was quiet for both assignments, classes I was taking, and classes I was teaching. My wife and I created a workspace for me in the corner of our bedroom.

“We are now a year into the pandemic. My wife has been able to return to work and my sons have enjoyed being back in the classroom. I however have yet to step back into a classroom to either take or teach a class. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have remained in the corner of our bedroom. I spend an average of 8-9 hours a day in this one little corner of our house.

“As I have spent so much time in this little corner of our house, I have sought to personalize it more and more. I have also sought to create a space that surrounded me with life. I developed a small obsession with plants, and to the chagrin of my wife, I have filled my corner with as many plants as possible. I also hung many inspirational quotes and memorabilia as a means to motivate me when I become lethargic and complacent in my corner. I hung two quotes from the musical Hamilton, one to remind me that “history has its eyes on me” and another to remind me that if I am to accomplish my goals that I will need to “write like I am running out of time”. I also hung two genuine signatures of women that are heroes to me, Jane Addams (the founder of modern-day social work) and Shirley Chisholm (the first Black woman to be elected to congress).

“Although I am looking forward to entering the classroom again or working on a paper at a coffee shop, I believe I will look fondly at this workspace that has become my own little piece of the world. After Covid is all done, I don’t think I will tear down my little workspace. I believe that as I move forward in my doctoral education, my little corner will remain a reliable and safe space to navigate my thoughts and ideas.”

Blue Angels honored frontline workers with formation flights over Detroit, Chicago, and Indianapolis. Photo from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

Benjamin Clark

“I have chosen for my visual artifact to juxtapose two images that show the contrast and contradictions with our federal government’s handling of the pandemic. The first image shows the Blue Angels flying over Chicago in May 2020 to honor frontline workers. If you recall, it was also during this period that personal protective equipment (PPE) was scarce and hospital workers were forced to reuse their facemasks multiple times, well beyond what was considered safe. This overuse put their health and safety and that of their families at risk. I recall reading news reports that some medical workers who spoke out against this practice faced consequences with hospital administrators and even faced termination.

“The cost of these honor flights was not made public, but a CBS News report indicated that each flight squadron cost $60,000 per hour. These flights took place in many cities across the country, including Indianapolis, when the pandemic’s first wave was at its height. The time, energy, and cost that went into these flights could easily have been better spent providing PPE to the very same workers that the flights were meant to honor. Interestingly, many people on my Facebook feed were thrilled to see the jets pass over our city. I do not fault them for being awed or inspired by the visual spectacle, but I am concerned that the contradiction, government waste, and misdirection of their attention away from a mishandled pandemic were lost on many people in favor of patriotic fervor.

“The second image is one I took in my home showing the pile of fabric facemasks that were handmade by merchants selling them on Etsy, or for us by friends, or were purchased from retail stores. The reason we had to purchase these masks is because they were not provided to citizens by the government and because N95 masks were not readily available for purchase in stores. Masks were scarce because the government was unprepared for a pandemic and mishandled its response from the beginning. The administration had a pandemic playbook that it inherited from the previous administration but chose to disassemble the response team and dispense with the playbook. One salient memory for me from this pandemic year will be the failed federal response and I think these two images placed side-by-side illustrate this failure well.”

Jenna Corrice

“The significance of this image to me is that it was taken by a door leading out of my house. It is
of the key hooks that I and others use. Spare keys, house keys, car keys, they are hung here.
They are picked up while leaving and dropped off when returning.

“This represents the current historical period, at least to me, in that the hooks are now being
overrun by masks. Multiple masks of multiple colors and styles can be seen. They are grabbed
as people leave, and dropped into the laundry once back.

“Everyday carry, the items one would bring with them on an everyday basis. Before the
pandemic, all I really needed to remember were my keys and wallet. Now I have to get used to
and always remember to bring a mask.”

Dana Dobbins

“The picture that I chose as my artifact is a photograph that I took of some sunflowers beginning to bloom in late spring. These are a particular variety of sunflowers that produces not just yellow petals but also orange and dark red petals as well. The picture was taken on Flanner House Farm on the near north side, which sits just off of Doctor MLK Jr Street behind Cleo’s Bodega. Behind the flowers are rows of carrots, radishes and I believe the beginnings of some rainbow chard as well as some unweeded, empty beds and a large shady tree. The sunflowers were planted as a suggestion by several expert gardeners familiar with the lead content of the soil in this part of Indianapolis. Mature sunflowers act out a process called phytoremediation which is the rehabilitation of land and soil and the removal of toxins such as lead.

“This pandemic had me struggling greatly with self-image, imposter syndrome, and a general bitterness for my perceived lack of achievements. With concerts being dangerous to even attempt and without my creative outlet of live music, I felt that the pandemic had taken part of my identity, and so, most of my time in it has been dedicated to looking inward. I spent a lot of that time gardening, thanks to some friends who had recommended that I volunteer at Flanner House Farm since I had the free time and they needed the extra set of hands with planting, harvesting, and pulling weeds. When I was a kid we kept a small garden in our flower bed and my mom let me grow easy stuff like corn, peas, and eventually huge, red, orange, and yellow sunflowers. Having the opportunity to bring friends along and just talk while pulling weeds had an interesting effect on me and I started to understand the magic of gardening and how it relates to different life lessons that my family, friends, and elders have instilled in me. I found myself in a few pretty terrible moments this year, unsure of who I was and the direction I wanted to head in. Nowadays, every once in a while, I can’t help but think that if I took the time to nurture the sunflowers in my head, it might help remove some of what is preventing me from growing. “

Holly Star

“My contribution to the COVID Time Capsule is a screenshot of the “Dote-Quotes-To-Note” channel in one of the Discord groups I regularly participate in. While admittedly crude, the screenshot depicts a handful of notable quotes that made us laugh from the course of our group activities throughout the last year. This artifact symbolizes the necessity of the online relationships and networks that have sprung up over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. With in-person meetups highly discouraged, if not outright impossible, maintaining the social relationships between friends online has not only grown in popularity, but for some has become a necessity. In my case, while my group got going well before covid, the pandemic threw us together a lot more, and as a result, we grew closer. From what I have heard from other members of our group, similar expansions of online communities have been part of their lives as well.

“This expansion is significant, not only for the social aspect, and the meaning that is given by the enjoyment of a close-knit friend group, but also for the impact that it has had on the mental and emotional health of the group. The pandemic has not been an easy time for any of us. I myself was diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-January, and the support that this group gave me was invaluable in getting me through my illness. The group has also supported me in my exploration of my gender identity, which has changed dramatically over the pandemic. Not only is this virtual artifact a snapshot into the humor, language and format of online communities in the COVID-19 Era, it also serves as a personal reminder that there are people that support me and that have my back, even if I cannot see them in person.”

Ezzeldeen Elsayed

“I am going to go out on a limb and say that, for me at least, this Pandemic was not really the worst thing that has ever happened to me. The truth is, once you’re restricted from going out or doing anything- and all you have time to do is think, contemplate, and reflect on what really matters in life you learn more about yourself. I learned how precious and fragile life really is. I learned to not take anything for granted and never to postpone your happiness on the idealization of a future event or time. Be happy right now. Appreciate what’s around you right now.  You can never really plan what’s going to happen in life & that’s ok. Because one thing that old heads always tell me is that life will take you on weird journeys and if you’re not prepared for it you are going to be miserable forever.

“At first glance you might be wondering why this selfie of me & my boys says anything about this current historical period. But let me explain. This was a spontaneous road trip to Tennessee that we all planned the day before. […] We ziplined, kayaked, made a bonfire out of some discarded wood we found, drove around, threw logs at a mountain bear and read some Quran… all in one day. We really said let’s risk our lives right now. And on our way back to the cabin, we realized the drive up was the most scenic and beautiful thing. So I tucked and rolled into the street.”

Dylan Goldberg

“Throughout the last year it has been my experience that I have been trapped inside my own home. Before I was never a social person but now there is not even the most basic social interactions. I would still see people and have brief conversations with peers. Occasionally I would even hang out with friends even though most of them are out of state. Now it is different I hardly ever leave my house unless it is necessary. When I do end up leaving everyone feels like they are scared to talk to each other. Obviously, I do not go to classes in person anymore so there are no connections to be had there.

“As such for my image I drew some houses near where I live. I feel as though this is where everyone has been suffering through the pandemic. Houses no longer feel like home instead they feel like a prison. It has gotten to the point where I will deliberately look for reasons to leave my house. For example, I could easily get my groceries delivered however I have started to choose to head out to get them in person.”

Sha-Nel Henderson

“These images were taken by my close friend Marcya Hill-Brown. She has been documenting the different signs that she encounters while out doing daily activities such walking downtown or on the canal. I thought this was an ingenious idea! I took three separate photos and created a collage to make one image.

 “Due to history being told one sided, I believe it is important for people to take control of their own narratives. That is one reason why these images are important to me. My friend will be able to share her story with images that show a time period in which we currently live. In general, these social distance signs tell the public where to stand, but they subconsciously are related to each person’s narrative. For example, the consequences of me not socially distancing could result in the death of a loved one that is high risk. For someone else, that is their reality. It goes beyond informing the public on how to conduct themselves. Standing six feet apart has become a way of life for all of us, which also gives insight into our individual stories.  If historians were to see this image, I would want them to notice that these signs symbolize how people’s lives are intersected throughout the world.”

Mason Johnson

“For my visual artifact I decided to do a photo of my dog Jersey when we got her in June. I chose this because the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to quarantine besides the obvious things such as masks, no toilet paper, etc was how a significant amount of people decided to get puppies or kittens during that time!It became such a common occurrence that people started referring to them as “pandemic puppies”. The idea of getting a new puppy started early in quarantine and we decided to go through with it and I don’t regret it at all! Jersey was one of the best parts of quarantine because she always had the best attitude and it improved my family’s outlook on being inside for so long.

“My family like many others thought quarantine would be the perfect time to get a new furry member of the family since we would be home all the time to take care of them. My family is not the only one that thought of this, my girlfriend and several people I knew personally decided to get puppies during that time. These new puppies were a solution to have another companion to get through the pandemic with. Dogs also provided a distraction from all the chaos that the world was/is going through. Dogs weren’t the only animals that were finding homes, this list includes cats, bunnies, hamsters, and more!”

Shauna Keith

“Supply shortages and empty store shelves dominated the news in the early months of the pandemic. Like many folks, I was shocked to find that staples like toilet paper were indefinitely out of stock. Since I typically complete the weekly shopping needs of my family, I immediately felt pressure once I witnessed fellow shoppers filling their carts with staples. I realized this sense of urgency was contagious since no one wanted their family to be left without. So, I found myself seeking out an alternative in the boxed Kleenex that were flying off the shelves.

“Seeking out necessities was a common but dominant theme over many months. I learned about frustrated shoppers scouring several stores in search of staples and my family was no exception. A once weekly chore became a scavenger hunt provoked by rumors of shipments that day. Trips to the grocery were more frequent, less productive, and filled with anxiety. A revolving list of items took their turn as out of stock merchandise. Disinfectant, bleach, soap, meat, rice, beans and many other items were difficult to impossible to find.

“One thing I noticed was the collective anxiety everyone seemed to express in public. Prior to the pandemic, many folks would chat with acquaintances in the aisles, but now folks scurried through the store hurriedly. Some people made jokes about the shortages while waiting in line. Many expressed concerns about things getting worse and some tried to stay positive insisting this was temporary. In the early weeks many wore masks, but a few sidestepped the store’s policy and would pull the mask off their nose or even completely down once they were inside. I fought the temptation to roll my eyes and placed as much distance as possible between us. At best, shopping was a sometimes-pleasant experience, perusing aisles and contemplating new recipes. At its worst it was a mindless chore. During the pandemic it transformed into a rushed mission to get in and out as quickly as possible. There was a constant undercurrent of danger wondering how clean the carts were or about someone coughing nearby.”

Ericka Kelly

“This photo represents multiple by products this pandemic had to offer, from emotional to physical distress. Covid19 has taken a toll on all of us in one way or another. This is my view of the pandemic. From being forced to stay home due to safety reasons was feeling trapped into my own house and being a prisoner to this pandemic. I show the behind the scenes in this collage. From being social to now having to social a distance away. From water being at a stand still, feeling like life is at a standstill and never knowing when normal will ever be the same. To the picture of the sky showing us that there are pockets of light to allow us to just take a breath before drowning in all the pain and suffering going on in the world around us.

“The stream is the metaphor of tears running down from our cheeks as our loved ones pass before our eyes. From death being a constant reminder that we are immortal, and immortality is inevitable. To the constant anxiety of the days ahead of waiting for a cure. From breathing in a mask every time you leave your house or even having to breathe in a mask for a whole work day lasting 10 hours a day. The last picture of the water shows hope for the future and the beauty of what we have learned from this pandemic.”

Madison Kerrigan

“For my historical artifact that represents COVID-19, I decided to draw out the logo for Zoom for multiple reasons that include how it personally impacted me, but also society as a whole. Personally, Zoom as a tool throughout the pandemic has created many conflicting feelings because it allowed me to continue my studies and remain on track for my degree, yet changed them in a drastic way as well. I no longer feel as though I am a full-time college student learning at the same capacity or experiencing the college lifestyle, but a person behind a muted mic and a turned off video. While I am still able to learn material for all of my classes, it comes with a new level of difficulty and organization because it is all online. Alongside the pandemic, classes being all online has also limited my movement throughout the university. This is going to make it more difficult to return to in person classes in the Fall because I will have to re-evaluate my schedules, transportation, and life outside of school.”

“Zoom as a resource in the workplace throughout the city also has created numerous changes. For example, businesses no longer need to rent out building spaces in order to show up for work every day. Because of this, there is the possibility that city spaces could lose a lot of income or stability due to a decline in productivity and population in cities. This decline in population would then go on to impact smaller businesses as well. This all directly impacts me because I will begin searching for employment in the city within the next year. Another reason it impacts me is because my options as a consumer will decrease if businesses continue to close.”

Destiney Lee

“Nearly one year later, I sit here, reflecting on what this photo means. The year of 2020 further magnified division, along with the disproportionate liberty and justice Black people encounter. The tragic murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor happened within a few weeks of one another, and George Floyd’s homicide was publicized just two months later. His last moment was a public display of what has been happening. In the thick of a pandemic and a heightened political/social environment, the discourse surrounding racial injustice was vulnerable. June 6, 2020 was one evening of multiple Black Lives Matter protest days where Indianapolis came together with solidarity, love, and collective push to make changes. I had taken a break from protesting when I noticed a person’s large sign on the opposite side of the street. They were a parent who voiced, “You can’t have my son.” Between us, protesters chanted and marched, lifting their own signs high above. It unveiled the wickedness of our nation and challenged the long-standing systems built deep within. Their foundation is rooted in segregation and prejudice, with little change having happened through today. Still, the same communities are affected. The grandchildren and great grandchildren of first recipients now experiencing similar trauma on the exact streets. “Indivisible with liberty and justice for all,” says our pledge of allegiance, yet our news displays an alternate reality.

“Today, I still have two questions: Why does it take national pressure for there to be movement towards justice? And why do we define peace on what makes us comfortable, even if it is visibly harming others? Sadly, Ahmaud, Breonna, George, and the countless deaths of other Black individuals by police brutality and racism are a heartbreaking reminder that we live in a world where someone’s skin color can determine their safety, and whether they are loved, respected and comforted by others. I believe the way we approach this is what makes a culture. It all matters: how we acknowledge privileges and address injustice (I.e., in our homes, schools, churches, jobs, neighborhoods and so on), who we vote for and why, what information we choose to consume or share, the conversations we’re having, how we listen… all of it. This photo encourages us to ask ourselves what we will think, say, and do about racial inequality moving forward. How will you and I actively reduce racial biases? How will we unlearn and learn? How can we care for and support our Black friends, family members, and the Black community as a whole? How can live into empathy, whether that means listening and/or forgiving? My hope is that future conversations about race in our individual spaces brings about healing and greater change on a global scale.”

Emily Leiserson

“Almost exactly a year ago, activities as we knew them prior to the pandemic were being canceled. My last day on the IUPUI campus in person was March 10, 2020; my stepson’s last day of in-person kindergarten was March 19; my last day in the office was March 23. At the time, we thought that we would be on lockdown for a few weeks, and then everything would go back to normal; a year later, almost all of my activities remain remote and virtual. (The fortunate exception is that my stepson has been back at school in person since he started first grade in the fall.)

“With this in mind, my time capsule image had to be a screen shot. I have hated screens at times, but I have always been grateful to have the capacity to continue all of my activities safely (if monotonously) from home. We talk about screens as a window to the wider world, but “windows” would be more accurate (even on my Mac); I rarely run few than 10 apps and browser pages at once, in a continuous effort to juggle work, school, and other obligations. (You can see all of my open activities at the lower right.) The triple split screen is not only a collage; it’s a way of life.

“On the right is a phone screenshot (yes, a screenshot within a screenshot) of an IUPUI email quantifying a year of COVID-19 as of March 10, 2021. I was horrified by the statistic of 1 billion minutes spent in 4.1 million Zoom meetings, which I assume to be on the IU/IUPUI campuses alone. But it is not surprising; many of us meet on Zoom, Teams, FaceTime, and other platforms daily—usually multiple times a day. After a year of Zoom meetings, I find that I have forgotten what it is like to see some of my colleagues in person—how tall they are, how they dressed when they were not at home, how their voices sounded when they were not filtered through a computer.

“On the left is a photo of my desk at home, complete with personal and work laptops, my constant cup of coffee, my multiple notebooks, a post-it wall, family photos, and piles and piles of books.

“One of the challenges of the pandemic has been how visually mundane and repetitious it has been. For me, it has felt critical to get outside for walks or runs every day, not only for exercise but also for variety and stimulation. The center image is a piece of sidewalk art I came across while jogging through the neighborhood. It represented the importance of beauty and art and our ability to create in any circumstances and with whatever materials we have at hand, no matter how simple. And yes, there is still creativity that happens offline!”

“Thrown away surgical mask on the ground. Global pandemic nearing its end” by Ivan Radic is licensed with
CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Corlan McCollum

“People do weird things in unprecedented times. It’s been a year since the beginning of the pandemic, but it feels so much longer, and it’s easy to forget how people would rush to the stores for toilet paper (amongst other things) at the start of this all. Then you think about how many masks have been made in this last year, and then how many things were bought online as people were encouraged to stay home and businesses were closed. There’s other things which there weren’t markets for before – those hand tools so you don’t have to touch doors or buttons, an entire vaccine, materials for online classes and work, various types of masks, etc. After the pandemic, what will we do with all these things? Hold onto them for the next once-in-a-generation event? It’s far more likely that as a nation, we will throw them away. The pandemic has pointed out many ways we have weaknesses or are underprepared for crisis, and some of our worst traits will have been exacerbated by it.”

Meghan Meadows

“I chose this image because I felt that both its content and its creation captured something significant about this social moment.  First, I have no memory of the term “social distancing” being used prior to March 2020, but suddenly it was everywhere – signs on the wall, stickers on the floor, and heard in every news story.  Six feet became a magic distance, and I became hyper aware of the physical space around me. I still tense if a stranger or even a friend come within what I assumed was a six-foot radius; I think before my limit was more like six inches.

“I also love this image because of its attempt at humor, using common objects to help us visualize the appropriate distance with the punchline of the CVS receipt at the end.  Anyone who has made a purchase at CVS knows that the receipt seems to just keep printing oversized coupons at the end.  The human capacity to use humor to cope with otherwise dark, difficult, and frightening times is really remarkable to me, and the Covid-19 pandemic seemed to take this humor-making to a new level.  Relatable memes, YouTube serenades while the main subject looks longingly out the window, the explosion of TikTok challenges, and even some of the wild things seen out in real life as people attempted to navigate experiences that were entirely new.  I think the spread of these attempts to relieve tension went so viral – please excuse the pun – because Covid-19 was a widespread experience on a scale unlike anything the world has seen in at least one hundred years. While the pandemic definitely did not affect all people equally, it does seem that almost no one escaped without at least some disruption.  I have heard it suggested, too, that a more proper name might be “physical distancing” because even as we stay physically apart, we try to connect digitally through humorizing our shared experiences.

“Finally, I think it is revealing to know the circumstances under which I took this picture.  For several minutes, I tried to find the right angle to take this picture.  Even though the poster is hanging in a main stairwell on IUPUI’s campus, I was not interrupted even once by someone trying to pass through.  Even with the campus in full swing of the spring semester, there were hardly any students in the academic buildings.  This seems to illustrate that we really are staying socially distanced, at least on the IUPUI campus.”

Mutia Morris

“The current pandemic that came to play in the end of 2019 came in a flash and uprooted our normal lives. So many deaths and so many things have changed. We have stricter sanitary conditions, we have places that we normally go to close. We are living in a time that I would have never thought I was going to live in. Although I never thought I would live in a time where a pandemic will control our lives, it did make me look at life differently.

“I began to see the beauty of the environment around me. I began to take in and appreciate the ones around me more. I wonder what the lives of everyone passing in cars around me are now consisting of. I truly wonder how they were affected during these strange times. A big question that I think of when looking at the passing cars is, ‘Have they begun to appreciate what life truly is?'”

Dean Peterson

To most people this photo looks like just another bird in someone’s backyard; however, this prehistoric looking flyer is special for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s the largest woodpecker in North America, although there is some controversy related to the extinction of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, which was last seen in 1944. The Ivory-billed Woodpecker was indeed bigger than this backyard North American superstar.
  2. I photographed this Pileated Woodpecker in my backyard two days ago. It’s call is easy to identify, and it came right in to eat whatever insects it could find on a pine tree in our back yard. I only had to wait a couple of minutes.
  3. With its flaming red crest and a call that’s been described as “slightly maniacal,” the pileated woodpecker has often been misidentified as the inspiration for Woody, the best known, albeit fictional, woodpecker of them all. Now the pileated has its own claim to fame: It’s been named the bird of the year for 2021 by the American Birding Association.
  4. Full article: https://news.wttw.com/2021/01/06/pileated-woodpecker-2021-bird-year
  5. It was the beginning of COVID when I realized we had some Pileated woodpeckers in the area. So, I did whatever I could to bring them in. And this picture gives you a little bit more perspective of how big these beauties actually are…..the bird feeder is two feet tall.

It’s been a year of COVID, but in some ways, I believe we have all gotten a little closer to nature while nature got a little closer to us.

Jay’Mee Proctor

“The visual significance that this photo holds to me is that when I took this photo, I was going through and I still am, a transition of my life where I was growing and therefore, embarking on a journey of self-discovery and these fortune cookies provided me the support and validation I needed. All the while, navigating the coronavirus pandemic like everyone else. And like everyone else, it felt like I was in a constant rotation of certain moods and events such as allergy season, being stir crazy thanks to quarantining, the uncertainty of life and its unpredictability especially during this unusual period and the upcoming of my second college graduation and what I would do with my life next. Throughout this entire time, I had not really stopped and allowed myself to take a step back and look at the bigger picture in front of me and consider my wants, needs, and my health, in all aspects.

“My period of transitioning began when my last semester of college at IUPUI began and it dawned on me that I had to begin thinking about my future and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, or for the next fifty or sixty years until I retire. Until graduation, I had not given it much thought, and nor did I have a concrete idea of the direction I wanted to go in. But I knew that with graduation behind the corner, I had to sit down and really narrow down the career paths that aligned with my beliefs and values not only as a cultural anthropologist, but as an individual. As I began embarking on this path, another obstacle popped up where I had to find another place to live. After living with both of my parents (separately), I had no idea what it was like or what it would be like to live on my own and I had zero idea about what actual adulthood is like, i.e., having your own place, paying your own bills, keeping, and holding down a job while managing school, life, etc. until you figure out what you what to do with yourself for the rest of your life.

“When I moved out of my dad’s November of 2020, and not on a good note, I thought everything was downhill from there. Not only did I not have anywhere to go, that was considered a stable environment emotionally and mentally, but I was homeless in the middle of a pandemic. It was only then that life begin to really hit me but then a saving grace came in the form of a family friend who was kind enough to let me stay with him until I got back on my feet or I got my own place, whichever came first (the apartment ended up coming first, then the stable job). And right now, I am at odds with my parents and some of my family with the decisions I have made but I must remember that I cannot be mad at myself for making the decisions that are best for me and I cannot allow myself to feel bad about them, because it is my life at the end of the day. The thing is, with life, is it not about the experiences and the lessons that are taught to you along the way? I will learn and unlearn new and old habits, and live a life rich in luxury in more ways than one!”

Samantha Riley

“This is a picture of my front door’s entryway. The grey box is a cooler for Oberweis, a door delivery service for dairy products, which I signed up for to avoid unnecessary grocery shopping as an extra precaution against COVID-19. On top is a box and a thin Amazon package. During the pandemic, much of my shopping has turned into online orders, whether that be for big items or small, day-to-day necessities or items of entertainment. In front of the boxes are some of the masks I’ve made throughout the pandemic. I’ve tried to use mask-making as a “brighter side” aspect of the pandemic, as I get to use cute fabric and add to my wardrobe, as well as donate them to local organizations who struggle to mask their employees and volunteers.”

Katherine Shr

“For my Cultural Artifact, I wanted to choose something beyond the masks, or the toilet paper, or even sanitary products. For my artifact, I chose an aromatherapy candle

“During this pandemic, a lot of people suffered and are still suffering from the disruption of their everyday lives, going out, and being able to interact with people in their day to day lives. Staying cooped up in your apartment all day and all night seems like a nightmare, especially at the start of the pandemic. As someone with ADHD, it was a different kind of personal hell. I don’t think a lot of people think as much about those with mental disabilities, but trying to navigate this pandemic as someone who’s what you would call “high functioning,” made this experience that much more difficult. There was less focus and too much distractions in my own home that made the lack of structure in my own home chaotic. I typically am able to function off of a lot of cues in my life, whether that’s being in class and having someone to remind me about an assignment, or being around other student organization members and being reminded about an event we have to go to or something I needed to prepare for later that day. When I’m stuck at home – there are no cues. Some points in time, I lost track of what day it was and other days I found myself waking up and blinking and it was 3 AM. The concept of time was less structured, I had to remind myself to log into zoom rooms or I had to remind myself to get in contact with someone.

“During this pandemic, it was also really difficult to stimulate myself and get myself to want to be productive without getting distracted easily. For some reason, candles seemed to be part of the answer. I got a bunch of candles to stimulate different times or parts of my day. It I wanted to relax I would burn eucalyptus candles, if I wanted to get motivated to clean or do something energetic I would burn a brighter fruitier candle. These were all mostly casual psychological associations to help remind me that it was time to do something. For my picture I included the specific candle I tried to burn when I was working on tasks and literally “focus” on what I was working on. Even now, I try to burn similar scented candles to get myself in the mindset to focus. This practice realized how much consistency doesn’t necessarily have to be boring but it can be a necessary part of life.

“I know a candle doesn’t seem out of the ordinary and it doesn’t seem essential but I think the interesting part about “unprecedented times” is that things change purpose or shift in ways we don’t expect them to. I think a lot of those with mental disabilities had to find new ways to navigate a pandemic too and I’d like to think they were able to find interesting ways to solve their problems too.”

Hunter Taylor

“While I was on a walk in downtown Indianapolis, I took this image at a crosswalk walk light pole. At the time, I thought this was an extremely cool, yet eerie thing to see in public. Since March of 2020, we have been dealing with the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the terrible repercussions of an extremely contagious deadly virus. Although this picture had been taken in the middle of November, the pandemic was still raging on stronger than ever. It was so unreal to see something like this in the public. No one around me seemed to notice the strange new street sign that had been nailed to the pole. Instead, they perceived it as something extremely common like a stop sign.

“I was taken aback when I saw it because it only further cemented the feeling in my mind that we were living during unprecedented times. So unprecedented and so real that there was the need at a city level to create a street sign to remind people to keep their distance of six feet or more to slow the spread of the virus. This strange addition to the street seemed almost apocalyptic to me. However, one comedic part of this sign was that someone decided to place a sticker on the sign that says, “Birds aren’t real.” This was not part of the actual sign, as the other side had no sticker whatsoever. But I felt that it was a vital part of the image that made it both surreal and comedic. This was at least a sign that someone like me had come across this sign and thought that it would have been funny to use it as a platform for their hilarious beliefs that birds aren’t real. Although we all know they are, it was just a sign of the times. If someone had told me during the middle of November that there was a scientific study that found that birds, in fact, were not real, but rather animatronics created by the government to spy on us every day, I would have smiled and said “I’ve heard crazier things.” 2020 was such a volatile year in all aspects that I would not have questioned it. I would have just accepted the reality of it and moved on.

“In short, I think the meaning behind this image is a strong one. It shows that the pandemic had affected our city so much that there were physical reminders of the pandemic in a place that you would probably never imagine. What would have been more interesting is if there were a sign that said “Caution! COVID-19 Particles in the Air!” While this would have been very alarming, it would have fit with the volatility of the year itself.”

Leah Witt

“I have decided to use this image to represent part of our current historical period. In response to the pandemic and the different shutdowns, I have seen many businesses begin offering different forms of curbside pickup. Some businesses in my town even seem to be desperate for people to work the curbside pickup due to the influx of customers using the new service.

I chose this particular photo, because I believe it represents one of my, and many others, only contact with the outside world. For many who are immunocompromised, contactless curbside pickup has become a great, relatively safe way for them to shop for groceries and other items. Besides online shopping, it is the only way my family shops now, in order to avoid getting sick. I believe even after the pandemic subsides, many businesses will keep their curbside pickup services.”