In the Spring of 2020, we all saw the world shut down due to COVID. I was in the middle of the semester trying to still keep my students' design education relevant in the face of tremendous challenges. We experienced illnesses and deaths of family and friends. They and their parents were being laid off of work. Home lives were being completely upended. Here in El Paso, the U.S. government enforced a most harsh penalty upon our community—the U.S.–Mexico border was actually shut down to non-essential travel. This meant that the usual daily commute of some of my students at The University of Texas at El Paso to and from our sister city of Juárez, Mexico came to a grinding halt. All design classes went virtual. The University distributed hot spots to students living in Mexico who had spotty internet access so they could continue with their education.
At the end of this most unusually difficult of semesters I gave my introductory-level Graphic Design 2 students a final assignment with a really tight deadline so they intentionally would not overthink it. I basically wanted them to design a poster that would help them process this semester and this pandemic visually in a way that would bring them catharsis—be that serious or silly, or that reflected their personal way of coping with it all.
As Steven Heller writes in his Daily Heller column in which they were featured, "The results are another example of how the coronavirus has co-opted the creative conversation—and how the creative spirit is as resilient as the human body."
I was so thrilled by the results, especially because every student told me they loved working on them. I also designed a poster in solidarity with them.