A virtual conversation on isolation, art and healing


Katrina Hannan, Staff Writer

The Center for Diversity & Inclusion and the Black Cultural Center hosted “Isolation, Art and Healing in the wake of COVID-19,” a virtual conversation in which student ambassadors discussed art and the process of healing during the coronavirus pandemic. The event, which is part two of a three-part virtual conversation series, took place on April 23.

The student ambassadors shared their pieces of art and discussed their process as well as what inspired them to create. The ambassadors used these pieces of art to start conversations surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.

The conversation was headed by Yolany Gonell, Director of the Center for Diversity & Inclusion and the Black Cultural Center. 

“Our student Ambassadors for the Center for Diversity & Inclusion and the Black Cultural Center have worked hard this year to develop strategic plans for programs where students can have intergroup dialogues, where people across difference can connect on shared experiences that sometimes we think only affects one group or issues that are muted,” Gonell stated

The ambassadors discussed prevalent issues they found their community facing during this time.

“In terms of the topics, these were developed in collaboration with the student ambassadors that were listening deeply to their peers and monitoring social media like Instagram and WPU confessions,” Gonell said.

Stacey Pierre, a student ambassador of William Paterson University, used her art to discuss the issue of hair and the problems that come with the unrecognition of hair services as essential.

“Stacey Pierre talked about her art and what inspired her to do it,” said Gonell. “This opened a dialogue that many women of color could relate to: hair. We then talked about Essential services and how Black women’s needs are not considered essential.” 

Pierre felt that hair shops that cater to people of color are essential businesses, and closing them made it difficult to maintain the proper care of her hair.

Students also provided plugs to student artists they felt impacted them and their time in quarantine. These artists included Omarr Kaba, a WPUNJ student and singer-songwriter, and Jami Lockett, an R&B/Soul singer-songwriter. 

“We hope that this allowed participants to see that they are not alone with their feelings of uncertainty and personal struggles with staying motivated with course work,” Gonell said. “While we all struggle with making meaning of COVID-19, things like karaoke, adopting a new pet, drawing, painting, writing poems, singing, etc serve as great strategies during insolation.”

The conversations about COVID-19 will be further discussed in the final part of the three-part series, “Vulnerable people and survival in the wake of COVID-19,” which will be held on April 30 at 12:30 pm.