Art during a pandemic: How artists are responding to COVID-19


Photo courtesy of xjuicexbocksx

The artist Juice Martinez created this collection of images that were inspired by the pandemic.

Jaqueline Martinez, Reporter

During self-isolating times amid the coronavirus pandemic, artists in El Paso and all over the world are creating artwork and adding value to the shadows of the pandemic. From decorated face masks, drawings and murals, to jewelry and sculptures, here’s a few works of art that fall witness to this historical time. 

Wash your damn hands

Locally known for her blood art, El Paso native, “Juice” Martinez, was in the midst of inspiration when creating these fun and humorous drawings that summarize the year of 2020 in a nutshell. With drawings such as the globe that reads “2020” catching on fire, handwashing, to hand-shaking death, the artist created this collection of images that were inspired by the pandemic.

“It is more of a means of giving people a smile in the midst of such a serious situation,” shared the artist.

Bathe your hands

Finding humor in human behavior during the pandemic, UTEP Alumna, Ruby Franco got inspired when creating, “The Perfect Duo,” and “Bathe your Hands,” a set of drawings that depict the hoarding witnessed during the crisis. “These drawings are simply just a way of me highlighting the humor of our behavior during the crisis such as overbuying,” said Franco who featured her drawings on her Instagram profile dedicated for her artwork, “sketchjamz.”

“The idea of a hand taking a bath just seemed like the ultimate exaggeration of washing your hands, I thought it was fun and it got the point across quite literally.

“Bathe your Hands”

Artifacts of Isolation

UTEP drawing major, Marlene Garcia used a 20-gauge silver-craft wire, toilet paper, and earring hooks to create these quirky toilet paper earrings that were inspired by the student’s metals assignment prompt and the pandemic. “We had to come up with three pieces of jewelry to represent various rooms and places; one of them being the bathroom,” said Garcia. “Plus, to revive the time when people were going crazy for toilet paper, when looking at my piece I hope people can remember those moments and have a laugh.”

The pair of earrings were featured on Instagram by Artifacts of Isolation, a collaboration between the San Diego State and UTEP metals program in which they feature student artwork made during isolation. “I see it as a reaction to the quarantine and a way to leave a mark for history,” said Garcia.

20-gauge Silver-craft Wire Toilet Paper Inspired Earrings

Girl with the blue surgical mask

Based on the 1665 painting by Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer’s’ “Girl with a pearl earring,” the England-based, street artist, Banksy’s parody dubbed, “Girl with pierced eardrum,” receives a new update. The mural, which is located at the artist’s hometown, Bristol, was updated to the coronavirus era with the addition of a blue surgical mask. It is unknown on whether the artist himself or somebody else attached the mask, since Banksy’s identity is kept anonymous.

Banksy’s “Girl with a Pierced Eardrum” is updated with the addition of a surgical mask

A symbol of loyalty turned into sign of present times

The iconic statue of Hachiko was built to honor the loyalty of the dog who waited outside the Shibuya station in Tokyo, Japan, for his owner every day for nearly 10 years, not knowing the man died at work. The anniversary of Hachiko’s death took place in April 8, and a memorial service had been planned but was canceled due to Covid-19 safety protocols.

Bouquets of flowers were placed beneath the statue and a person even placed a mask over the dog’s snout which has been removed various of times by management. However, people keep coming back to place a face mask on the statue as a reminder for people to wear their mask.

“Symbol of loyalty turned into a sign of the times.”

As Sora News 24 wrote, “Let his perseverance be an example for you, if a dog can wait 10 years for his owner, surely we as humans can last a couple of months staying at home.”

Luke Jerram unveils new glass sculpture dedicated to research

British installation artist Luke Jerram has created a glass sculpture in tribute to the pandemic, which was commissioned eight weeks before the crisis by a University in America to reflect their current and future research. “This artwork is a tribute to the scientists and medical teams who are working collaboratively across the world to try to slow the spread of the virus. It is vital we attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus by working together globally, so our health services can manage this pandemic,” said the artist on Glass Microbiology.


The UB Post shared an article on the Indian Council for Cultural Relations who announced it would be holding a COVID-19 themed global art competition. The article featured a collage titled, “Coronalisa,” which was done by graphic designer, Kasia Kosar, which depicts Leonardo da Vinci’s’ Mona Lisa wearing a face mask along with images of soap bars, the hands from Michelangelo’s’ Creation of Adam and the coronavirus cell.


Jaqueline Martinez may be reached at [email protected]