As I continue to draw in my COVID Journal it is changing along with the times and becoming something new. So I have decided to call it The Beautiful Horrific to reflect our horrifying time, and look for the beauty that comes with it. The following are some new pages from the month of June. It has been overwhelming and eye opening.
During my time at home in relative isolation, I created a bound journal from scraps that have been in my studio for up to fifteen years. This Ethiopian binding has quarter sawn wooden covers that were incorrectly made for my edition Gules, and pages of an old atlas that I’ve always thought would come in handy one day. This finally seemed the ideal paper for pages of a journal about a world pandemic.
Eventually, I will fill the book with bats and butterflies cut from maps of China to show the spread of this disease. I began cutting bats and realized pretty quickly that this has to be the last step or it will be very hard to draw on the pages. I want this book to take the form of a travel journal, stuffed with papers or tickets picked up along the way.
My first thoughts began with – where did this begin? A bat, a pangolin?
My next thoughts had to do with what people are doing. I feel there have been so many moments of beauty and thankfulness in the world. This is something I focused on to alleviate the shock and fear. I have been working on linked type, drawn with purely geometrical shapes. I love the negative spaces the letters and numbers create. Even when I was having an off day, I could spend my time drawing text. It felt like a meditation.
I have had some dark moments that couldn’t be denied. I try to keep the politics out of my journal and focus on numbers and facts. Iranians drinking methanol as a cure could not be ignored.
Many hopeful moments include the return of nature. Finding animals in places that are usually occupied by humans and the clearing of smog. These are things that give me great comfort and I hope can continue when the world begins to pick up speed again. I dearly hope that we have evolved in some way from this experience.
Although I am posting the pages in a linear fashion, I haven’t been creating them from beginning to end. I jump from place to place, reflecting on what is happening in a particular area. I date each page so I know when they were finished. There are many pages (and regions) that I have yet to fill.
Working in a random fashion I don’t often get a sense of the whole. It’s nice to see the images all together in this blog to get a feel for what I’m doing.
This is the page that I keep going back to. My home. Where I track the cases and deaths every so often, when I feel like I can face the numbers. The numbers are huge but the individual stories are heartbreaking. The redwing blackbirds are back and active, but this is the strangest spring. Watching and listening to the birds has become a daily pastime.
I’m happy that the last couple of pages are hopeful – blue skies over LA and Hawkbill Turtles migrating to the sea, on a beach that they have all to themselves. One way or another, nature always wins.
Looking down from the top of the horseshoe falls on the Canadian side, that turquoise water that forms on the edge is stunningly beautiful. From this angle the power and the force of this water is unmistakeable. I do believe the view from Canada is the best – you can view the American falls from directly across and walk from there to the Canadian horseshoe falls.
The night before traveling to Niagara was not a good one. My husband holds a green card and he was worried about crossing the border. He had dreams of border checks and helicopters flying overhead. We argued and he barely slept. With the current American political climate I don’t blame him. Nightmare accounts of separated families and body searches are all over the news. I grew up thinking the U.S. and Canada were practically the same country -how did we get to the point where we we’re nervous crossing a bridge into Canada? Is it possible to turn around and go back if you cross the bridge by mistake?
Once we crossed the border we no longer worried about getting back into the U.S. The Canadian side is built up, with noisy restaurants, haunted houses, wax museums, go carts and Ferris wheels. We walked through a Hard Rock Cafe and Rainforest Cafe arcade to find a bar with free beer samplers. I don’t even go to those places in Chicago. Afterwards we found an Indian restaurant that was quiet and the food was good. Then as we walked along the falls, we realized how nice the view from this side is. There were lots of people, but the strip of walkway lined with gardens was so big, it never felt very crowded. We walked for hours, then we retired to our room at the Sheraton, where we had a perfect view of the falls and watched the fireworks.
Early the next morning we left for Chicago, driving on the Canadian side to Detroit. It was smooth sailing the whole way – much better than driving through Ohio. And though the border guards are far from cheerful, we didn’t have any problems. Oh and we had to pay five bucks to get back in. What a rip off!