Art during Covid-19 prevails for betterment of mental health awareness.
By Chardonnay Beaver
March 2021 marks a year since the coronavirus outbreak led to mandated isolation and social distancing orders. In the midst of health, racial, and economic indifferences there is one entity that we all comprehend: music. Although there are numerous speculations regarding vaccination and global healing, how can music and art aid such processes? The role of an artist is to showcase the relevant matters of our time. To that point, I recently spoke with Kateel (22)―an activist, singer, rapper, and producer based in Seattle, WA―to discuss his experience as an artist over this past year.
When asked how this past year has impacted his life, Kateel replied “[this year has] given me a lot of time to do self-reflection and be grateful for all the things I did have that I didn’t necessarily realize was such a blessing to have. I will no longer take any of those things for granted… once we get them back.”. Notably, in May 2020 Governor Jay Inslee presented a three-part phase program to assist Washingtonians in gradually transitioning back to our normal routines amidst the pandemic. However, we soon learned that these conditions are our new normal.
With that said, Covid-19 reveals the outstanding mental health concerns in Black and Brown communities. Kateel shared that throughout this pandemic his resources “ran thin”. Like many of us, financial stress begins to burden our mental wellness. Finding a creative outlet grants relief and fosters connection amongst all people. Kateel’s creative juices began to flow and, in just four months, his artistic project Art of Quarantine (AOQ) was released― followed by a short-film.
Through his ability to artistically engage with common realities throughout the pandemic, Kateel later showcased AOQ to connect with community members at sites like CHAZ (Capital Hill Autonomous Zone) as we all tried to reckoned with the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Kateel will continue to use music as a vehicle for his activism to honor those who sacrifice their comfort for the sake of progress. Moreover, his most recent project, Mind Over Matter discusses topics like anxiety and depression. Evidently, this generation is eager to denounce the stigmas associated with mental health. In closing, it is imperative that safe spaces are created for youth (ages 6- 22) to discuss their mental health as they adjust to this new normal.... maybe art can aid them through this process!