Posters reflect key information from World Health Organization, United Nations in battle against novel coronavirus

MURRAY, Ky. — Students from the Murray State University Department of Art and Design have designed posters in response to a call for artwork addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On April 3, the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization teamed up to launch an international open call for artwork about beating COVID-19. The competition asked artists to submit designs that translate critical public health messages about the disease. Submissions could take any form — from visuals, video and audio tracks — so long as they capture one of the UN’s five key messages: physical distancing; know the symptoms; myth busting; do more, donate; and the ever-important kindness contagion.

Students from the Murray State University Department of Art and Design have designed posters in response to a call for artwork addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students in professor James Bryant’s graphic design classes used their skills and creativity to craft posters promoting these key messages from the UN. 

“In the transition to working remotely, the initial hurdle was making sure the students created a new place to work,” Bryant said. “But once that was established, I still found it difficult to focus on the topics we had been working on prior to the quarantine. As artists, sometimes making visual work about problems and current events can help us work through those problems, so I began looking for ways for the students to use their abilities to address the global pandemic. That’s when I discovered the UN and World Health Organization’s call for artists, and knew that was exactly what the students needed to get back to work.” 

“This is such an unprecedented situation, and it’s very stressful to feel as helpless as I and many others do,” said Corinne O’Neal, a graphic design major from Louisville, Kentucky. “I feel like we as a community are so used to doing things to help that now, we feel lost, because all we can really do to help each other is to stay home. If this small poster helps to reinforce that staying home is helping and protecting people, and also helps to raise awareness of how best to do this, then that’d be amazing.”

Bryant posted about the students’ work on Instagram and Facebook, and the announcement eventually found its way to Joe Duncan, marketing director at the Caldwell Medical Center in Princeton, Kentucky. Duncan, a Murray State graduate, reached out to Bryant about the posters and will feature them on the hospital’s website to promote healthy hygiene and habits. 

“It feels really good that the community has responded so positively to our work,” said Shann Riley, a studio art major from Scott Depot, West Virginia. “It’s nice to know we are helping spread helpful information.”

The students said having the opportunity to create art during this challenging time is improving their own health, and they encourage others to pursue art projects as well. 

“I believe working on my art during this time has absolutely helped me personally deal with everything that is going on,” said Greyson Lott, a graphic design major from Owensboro, Kentucky. “Unlike many other professions, a lot of us have access to a computer and the software we use during this time and I’m grateful for that. Even if people don’t, I think doing any form of art during this time can really help ease the mind and relieve stress.”

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