Blog / 2022 / Walking this Path with You

March 13, 2022

Three years ago, the United States was entering its first and only country-wide lockdown and, though the pandemic had already been raging across the planet for a few months, COVID suddenly felt really real for Americans. In those first months of uncertainty, my partner David and I made a solid attempt at watching every last amateur travel video on YouTube. We’d always been lovers of the genre, but getting away via our screen felt that much more important under stay-at-home orders.

It’s strange to think back to that time, now that so many have decided COVID is over. It’s strange to think back even to last summer, when the vaccine made everything seem possible, before the global rollout was so thoroughly bungled. Before delta. Before omicron.

Still, that’s where I’m taking you today, with this travelog from my road trip across the US seven months ago.

[closed captioning available]

This is one episode in a whole series of videos David made. They’re called 32 Chews and they’re inspired by our lockdown binging. This particular video includes a reference to a story we were told in this episode and it shows the bison friend who inspired my Grand Prismatic Bison painting, the making of which is below.

Gwenn Seemel Yellowstone wildlife painting process
painting process

I love all of 32 Chews. I love the music that David created for it and the way he layered the stories of our adventures. Still, if I had to pick just two all-time favorite episodes, they would be:

  1. the video about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where my dad grew up, because it was the first time I’d been anywhere that people recognized my last name.
  2. the video about the second day of our Badlands visit, because prairie dogs!
rainbow buffalo art with Yellowstone Grand Prismatic in the background
Gwenn Seemel
Grand Prismatic Bison (Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming)
acrylic, colored pencil, and marker on paper
7 x 11 inches
(This original painting is for sale.)

As we begin Year 3 of COVID, I can’t help but reflect on everything that’s changed. The uncertainty and binging of that first year morphing into a tentative celebration, which was cut short before summer in the northern hemisphere was even over.

That said, I’m also struck by one aspect of me that remains the same as at the start of the pandemic: I’m a consummate masker and I’m proud of it.

Because when I see someone wearing a mask these days, I know that they have an excellent imagination. After all, it’s only someone who can visualize their breath exiting their nose and mouth, forming a cloud around them—a cloud that the people around them end up breathing in—who will wear a mask when our leaders have given up on asking people to care about each other.

Gwenn Seemel American landscape paintings
COVID across America collection
(See all artwork that’s available here.)

We’re all on this adventure together: you, me, the masked, and the unmasked as well as everyone from the Yellowstone bison to the bacteria populating the park’s famous hot springs. Though the pandemic is “so over” for so many people, I hope we never forget the lessons these first years of COVID have taught us.

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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