After the start of quarantine last year, Isabelle Yang (Brown class of ‘22) set out on a creative journey to discover how different artists’ perspectives on their work had changed over the course of the pandemic. Throughout the past couple of months, Isabelle has interviewed a number of artists about their experiences while in quarantine. The project began organically according to Yang, who also works for The Indy. She said that the project grew from an idea she developed with a few other friends in the publication and became something much bigger.
I had the privilege of interviewing Isabelle about her ongoing project last week. We first spoke of how she got started. She said that during quarantine, most people had more free time and so she thought it would be a perfect time to get in touch with artists and discuss what COVID-19 had changed for them.
After reading one of her favorite novels, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Yang decided to reach out to the author, Ottessa Moshfegh, for an interview. Afterward, Isabelle began reaching out to more artists to get their perspectives.
Isabelle noted that her choice of who to interview was very deliberate: she wanted to reach out to a variety of artists, all of which would have different experiences during quarantine. Yang was also specific about the structure of her interviews. She began with asking each artist to look back and reflect on their past work. Later, she’d ask them about their plans for the future and where they were heading next.
During her project, Isabelle has gotten to speak with a number of notable artists. In addition to Ottessa Moshfegh, she has also gotten to speak with New York Times editor and author for the Modern Love column Daniel Jones, and Lindsay Ellary–a Los Angeles based photographer known for her work with Phoebe Bridgers and King Princess. Isabelle told me that she most enjoyed her interview with Daniel Jones.
At the conclusion of our interview, I asked Isabelle if she found any common themes between the interviews she conducted. She said that many artists noted that things didn’t really slow down for them; instead, lockdown had given them the opportunity to think about their work and even be more productive. I found her point to be very insightful. Personally, the past year has been a time for me to explore my creative side as well.
As for her plans for when her project concludes, Yang said that she didn’t really know what she was going to do with everything she has collected. She did feel like the project would wrap up soon, as to her it was rooted in thoughts about quarantine. With the vaccine being distributed and many states opening up, it is doubtful that quarantine will last much longer. Isabelle said that she’s considered turning her project into a podcast sometime in the future. Other than that, she doesn’t know what direction she’ll take.
I am very excited to see what Isabelle does with her project. It is my hope that she shares her interviews with these artists sometime in the future. Inspiration is a key part of creativity, and I think there is something in these interviews that would inspire all of us.