Blog / 2021 / A Perfectly COVID-19 Art Theme: Time Soup

January 20, 2021

The painting featured in this video is fine as a stand-alone piece, but the real art of Masked Up Exponentially is in performance: when I wear a mask of me wearing a mask with me wearing a mask on it into infinity. I realize I’m probably the only one knows what’s on my mask when I’m at the grocery store, but in a weird way that’s part of the art as well. When you’re living in time soup, it’s essential to find ways to satisfy yourself.

COVID time soup art theme, Shayla Maddox’s Many Moons Project
Shayla Maddox’s Many Moons Project

It was Shayla Maddox’s Many Moons Project that convinced me that time soup had truly come into its own visually. Launched last summer, Shayla will be painting the nightly phases of the moon for a year. The project was originally meant as a personal anchor for the artist in these soupy times, and it has much the same effect for me, as Shayla’s audience. Her moons help me notice time in a healthy way.

COVID time soup art theme, Michala Gyetvai’s visual diary of the pandemic
Michala Gyetvai’s visual diary of the pandemic

Like with Shayla’s project, Michala Gyetvai’s visual diary of the pandemic, which I discovered through her tweeting, expresses the time soup theme through repetition with slight but important differences. The individual works are lovely, and, cumulatively, they are stunningly beautiful. They put time on display and make it feel special again.

girl holding a garter snake, artwork
Gwenn Seemel
The Snake Philosopher and the Madness of Meaning
2020
acrylic, colored pencil, and marker on paper
11 x 8 inches

This is not a time soup piece. It’s the first image I completed after the pandemic started, but I include it here because of the way it contradicts the Black Death theme of appealing to saints. It’s not obvious in the image itself, but the story behind it reveals it as a plea for all of us to stop trying to find meaning in COVID. A plague is always just a plague, and, in much the same way, a little girl who terrifies a snake can rationalize it prettily, but the snake will still be harmed. We are the snake and there is no reason COVID has chosen this moment.

COVID art time soup theme, masking up exponentially
Gwenn Seemel
Masked Up Exponentially
2020
acrylic, colored pencil, and marker on paper
10 x 13 inches

You can buy the original Masked Up Exponentially for $150 plus shipping—see all currently available artworks. There are also prints and blankets and things with this image.

COVID art of a woman wearing a mask that’s decorated with an image of that same woman wearing a mask, which also has the image on it, and on into infinity
detail of Masked Up Exponentially

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