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Ideas for safe, socially-distanced artistic expression

Here are five ways to engage your inner artist amidst a pandemic

If you're looking for a way to express yourself in quarantine, why not try picking up a new hobby?
If you're looking for a way to express yourself in quarantine, why not try picking up a new hobby?

The coronavirus pandemic is undoubtedly taking a toll on everyone. People are stressed, anxious and lonely. But while senses of emptiness and numbness permeate many of our lives, art can be one of the few things that get us through the day. Although public health guidelines limit the activities people are permitted to participate in, artistic expression can still be accomplished safely. Here are five ways to engage your inner artist amidst a pandemic.  

Capture the moment

Look around — the world is going through a pandemic, political and social tensions are rising, the earth is dying — there is always something happening, no matter how big or small, and there are stories laced into these moments. Try capturing these stories and the feelings they evoke as an avenue for artistic expression. Take a walk around Charlottesville with a camera, a paintbrush, a writing journal or any other medium of choice and record today’s moments.  

Redo and decorate

Clothes, shoes, bedrooms, notebooks — literally anything — can serve as a blank canvas. Give new life and energy to these items and spaces by adding pops of color or introducing new textures. This can be especially freeing if you’re living in a dorm with not much decoration. Grab some scissors and distress some denim or sew on patches and studs. Rearrange furniture in living areas, hang new lights or paint walls and centerpieces. 

Learn a new instrument 

Quarantine is the perfect time to learn a new instrument. There are tons of informational videos and musical scores online, perfect for easy social distancing. Open-source audio-mixing software is another way to play around with music. Record snippets of different sounds or sample fragments of other songs, and layer them over one another to create new works of art.  


Yes, dance. It’s been said a million times over, but these are tough times, and dancing is a great way to relieve stress. In your dorm or your backyard, on your porch or on the Lawn, you can find the perfect place to bust a move. Search up tutorials online, join a virtual dance group or simply turn on your favorite song and start moving.  

Write to a pen pal 

Writing letters is perfect for staying connected with others during a global crisis. Get creative with the letters and include zines or poems in the package. Collaborative art and writing can also be done with a pen pal by mailing unfinished drawings and stories for them to complete. Other options include sending homemade stickers, origami or pressed flowers. Customizability is the best part about sending letters as the receiver feels loved and special — something the world could use more of given the circumstances — so make use of it and make someone’s day. Ideal pen pal candidates could include a friend who isn’t living in Charlottesville this semester.