A United Response to COVID-19—an Artist’s Perspective
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A United Response to COVID-19—an Artist’s Perspective

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  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Emerg Infect Dis
    • Description:
      Vasundhara Tolia (1950−), The World United, 2020 (detail). Mixed media on canvas, 30 in x 20 in/76.2 cm x 50.8 cm. Digital image courtesy of the artist. Michigan, United States.

      Artists from across the globe also responded to the effects of COVID-19 in myriad ways, communi- cating a wide range of perspectives and experiences about the pandemic through imagery, music, dance, and writing. Efforts to collect and share some of this artistic output via online platforms helped connect artists and audiences to a greater degree than would otherwise have been possible during the pandemic. For example, in spring 2020 the Washington Post in- vited readers to submit artwork created during the early months of the COVID-19 outbreak. The pa- per featured 20 works, selected from more than 650 submissions, in the article “The Best Art Created by Washington Post Readers during the Pandemic.” Michael Cavna, a writer-artist-cartoonist who penned the story, explained, “The Post considered not only the quality and creativity of the art, but also the fasci- nating accompanying backstories. Enduring quaran- tines, some artists rendered what isolation and loneli- ness felt like, while others depicted longed-for social scenes from a pre-pandemic time.”

      The World United, the cover art for this special supplement issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, was among those finalists. Vasundhara Tolia, who cre- ated this image, took a somewhat different approach from other artists. Tolia, originally from India, is now a retired pediatric gastroenterologist and served as a tenured professor of pediatrics and as a consultant and attending physician at hospitals in the Detroit, Michigan, USA, area, where she currently lives. She has embarked on a second career as an artist, and her work has been shown in group exhibitions in several states, many online national exhibitions, and several solo shows. In that same Washington Post article, Tolia wrote about her painting, “Medicine has always been my first passion. And during these unprecedented, tumultuous times, it beckons me again as I watch helplessly from the sidelines now. Since my retire- ment as a physician, I’ve poured my creativity into art and poetry, so creating this kind of response came naturally to me.”

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