Q is for Quarantine

Art as therapy from ‘A’ to ‘Z’

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When quarantine transformed D.C.-based artist Jessie King Regunberg's home into a classroom, office, and restaurant, she channeled her experience into a contemplative art project; one that drew on her experience as an historian and children's book author.

Playfully titled "Q is for Quarantine," the project features 26 pieces of art, corresponding with each letter of the English alphabet, which address the many ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted daily life.

"The project was a chance for me to connect with my family and my friends through our shared experiences and feelings that this pandemic brought on," Regunberg said.

The pieces in the "Q is for Quarantine" collection strike a balance between humor and heartbreak. Pieces such as "A is for Alcohol," and "G is for Getty Museum Challenge," were specifically designed to "share a laugh" in these times of hardship and to take a few moments to "make light of what's happening in our world and to our country," explained Regunberg. Meanwhile, other pieces, such as "R is for Recession" and "E is for Essential Workers," focus on some of the more somber realities we as a society are facing in the wake of the pandemic.

One piece in Regunberg's collection, "K is for Kerchief," has taken on a new meaning recently. The piece depicts a young Black woman in grayscale wearing a bright red bandana over her nose and mouth. Originally intended to be a representation of the masks we are all advised to wear when going outside, the imagery "took on a whole new meaning in light of the Black Lives Matter protests," says Regunberg. 

At times when the realities of the world were overwhelming, the project has "helped me to persevere," to bond with others over these shared experiences, and to look at this time with the fascination of a social scientist. When Regunberg completed all 26 components of "Q is for Quarantine," she decided to make the collection into a puzzle, available for purchase on her website.

The puzzle, she hopes, will serve as a historical memento, a nod to a hobby that many families have embraced during quarantine, a source of entertainment, and as an opportunity to raise funds for two causes of great importance to her: The ARK, a JUF partner, and the ACLU's National Prison Project.

" Before the pandemic, my dad volunteered at The ARK every week, sometimes multiple times a week," Regunberg said. However, he had to put his volunteering on hold due to the stay-at-home order issued in April. A portion of puzzle proceeds will go to The ARK in his honor, supporting The ARK's increased efforts to provide food, shelter, and healthcare to the Chicago Jewish community.

Puzzle proceeds will also benefit the ACLU's National Prison Project, which advocates for the right of prisoners to proper medical care. With a disproportionate 34% of the country's correctional population being individuals of color, the issue of healthcare within the nation's prisons has a racial component, especially now, when COVID-19 is ravaging prison populations.

"I think that we've seen time and again that art really has the ability to move and inspire people, especially inspire them to act," Regunberg said. She hopes that her project will continue to unite communities and contribute "to beating COVID and to moving towards a more racially equitable future."

To purchase a "Q is for Quarantine" puzzle, visit  Q is for Quarantine . Puzzles cost $45 each.

To learn more about The ARK, visit arkchicago.org .

To learn more about the ACLU's National Prison Project, visit aclu.org/other/aclu-national-prison-project .

Jenna Cohen is a development professional and freelance writer living in Chicago.   



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