Smiling through the mask. A pandemic comic book
For more than a year now, the COVID-19 pandemic brought us unexpected and difficult life challenges. Confinement rules left many of us economically weak, socially disconnected, and emotionally vulnerable. In a short time, our way of life changed dramatically and, usually, not for the better. Situations that would have seemed absurd before the pandemic became our new normal, and in that sometimes humor could be found. For example, we went from finding it difficult to cover our nose and mouth every time we went out of the house to taking pride in our collection of beautiful, colorful, handmade masks. At first, we struggled to switch from in-person meetings to online video conferencing. Then we became oddly proud to be among the tech savvy who knew how to navigate those platforms, until we finally declared ourselves overcome by Zoom fatigue.
These situations provided me with materials for laughs during the pandemic months. I enjoyed creating a series of humorous cartoons and I shared them on various online platforms. The financial support I received from the Palo Alto Public Art Program through its ArtLift Microgrants helped me turn this series of illustrations into a comic book and to share it for free with the Palo Alto community. With this project, I would like to help people recover a sense of joy in their lives by seeing the humor in some of the unusual and often difficult situations the pandemic imposed on us. By choosing the â€œtraveling bookâ€ format, I also hope to encourage you to rediscover your sense of belonging to the community by laughing together at situations we all experienced.
May the book bring you a smile or two … behind a mask or not!
A traveling book
We could not travel during the pandemic, but this book can. When you find one of the books, enjoy it for a while and then pass it on to someone who could use a smile, or bring it back to a neighborhood book box. Keep the book traveling! During the summer of 2021, 100 copies of this book will be deposited in neighborhood book boxes and public place, all over Palo Alto. Each copy of the book has a unique number. Just like you want your loved ones to check in with you while theyâ€™re traveling, you can help this book check in while itâ€™s traveling by sharing its unique number in your #SmilingThruTheMask posts.
Join in the fun and share your own #SmilingThruTheMask stories and creative work!
The pandemic turned all of our lives upside down and we all have stories to tell. Some might be sad, some might be funny. Did you write about it? Did you turn them in some creative work? Some of these situations, we all experienced, even if we dealt with them differently. Let’s share them as a way to support each other. Share your own stories and creative work using the #SmilingThruTheMask hashtag.
Palo Alto Public Art Program. ArtLift Microgrants
The Smiling through the mask project was made possible with the support of the Palo Alto Public Art Program and funded in part through its ArtLift Microgrants. I am very thankful for their support. These grants are available to artists and creatives with the goal of helping the community recover both emotionally and economically from the pandemic through the arts and creative outlets.
Where are the Smiling through the mask books?
There will soon be a list here of all the places where 100 copies of this book have been deposited in neighborhood book boxes and public place, all over Palo Alto. Come back soon to find out if one of them was in your neighborhood.
Update: As of June 24, books have been deposited in over 35 book boxes in Palo Alto. Look for one in your neighborhood.
To find one of the neighborhood boxes or public spaces where a traveling book has been deposited, look at this map: