Michael Suguitan / Sun Staff Photographer

March 17, 2020

Art in the Time of Crisis

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The majority of The Sun’s content over the last few days has centered around the coronavirus and the University’s handling of it. We’ve seen incredible reporting from our news department, and some moving columns from our opinion department (including one from our godmother, Paris Ghazi ’21). Where does arts fit in all of this? It feels wrong to publish a Lil Uzi Vert review during a global crisis.

What are we going to be putting out?

We aim to put out our usual run of album, movie, book and video game reviews, along with thought-provoking columns. While we settle in and practice social distancing, we’re going to have more time than ever to lock into our favorite entertainment and provide you with more things to do and enjoy besides Office reruns and stale memes about Zoom lectures. There will be more content to let our writers really show you what they’re made of — Mira Kudva Driskell’s ’23 column on communism in Antz is a great example.

Something may feel missing from our content, though: dozens of Cornell and Ithaca art events have been canceled. Cornell Fashion Collective designers had to improvise after their show was canceled. Concerts at the State Theatre and The Haunt are temporarily shut down. We never even got to find out who our Slope Day artist was supposed to be. We’ll do our best to cover these stories remotely — hearing from CFC artists, seniors in arts majors or anyone who wants to get a story of creation told.

What do we hope people get out of it?

As a department, we hope you find distraction, comfort and connection through entertainment. Art can provide solitude in quarantine, but reading about what others have enjoyed will hopefully remind our readers that they aren’t alone — we’re all processing together.

Many students will listen to music as they drive or fly home. Songs are taking on new meanings, absorbing the moments of urgency, fear and love. Exerting her entire life force and with tears in her eyes, one of the arts editors belted “Movies” by Weyes Blood as she drove to downstate N.Y. She felt like this week was a movie with its love, quarantine, sadness and unity, and felt understood by the song.

Beyond acting as an emotional outlet, art can help us think about where we are and contextualize the coronavirus crisis in history. Looking back at movies like Apocalypse Now made during or about times of crisis shed light on our cultural psychology: How have we expressed ourselves during turmoil?

Self-expression today is important — the arts department urges you to keep creating. Writing a poem, playing the ukulele for your family or just doodling a cool turtle wearing a mask can help you get through quarantine. When you put something unique into the world that wasn’t there before, you capture the moment with your individuality. It’s satisfying, but also good for posterity.

It’s okay to be worried — that sense of urgency is what is going to get everyone through this pandemic. But it’s important to take a break, to not let that worry and anxiety consume you. Live the moment — that’s what art is here for.


Emma Plowe is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. Daniel Moran is a junior in the College of Human Ecology. They can be reached at [email protected].