While many people have made videos to cheer on those working on the front lines of the fight against the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai, Chien Meishuang has been spending her time in lockdown at home in front of her easel, painting and writing simple heartwarming messages on her works.
The paintings, which she has posted on her social media accounts, are part of her Journal of the Pandemic Lockdown, a project she started two years ago. Her works have now won acclaim and have even been featured by news outlets such as Xinmin Evening News, Youth Daily and China News Service.
"We are all facing a difficult time when everybody is distressed from being cooped in their homes," Chien tells China Daily. "I simply wanted to spread some positivity and let others know that there is a silver lining amid the dark clouds."
The Taiwan native, who lives in Shanghai, is getting to know her neighbors better and being on the receiving end of their kindness.
"At the beginning (of the lockdown), I only asked them for some oil so that I could cook the beef that was provided by the municipal government. But they became very concerned about my well-being and started providing me with all kinds of food," says Chien, founder of LusiArt Cultural and Creative, a visual arts studio in the city's Tianzifang area.
To document this experience, the artist created a painting, titled Zhongguo Haolinju, or Good Neighbors in China, marking the first new addition to her project this year. Chien has gone on to create more than 40 paintings for her pandemic journal series so far this year.
Other scenes depicted in her latest works include volunteers using a water sprinkler as an improvised tool for disinfection, delivery men having a quick lunch and her neighbors welcoming a 70-year-old man who returned from hospital after recovering from COVID-19.
"It is because of the pandemic that I have made friends from all walks of life in the area where I live. These individuals have provided infinite inspiration and stories for my works," she adds.
In 2020, Chien made a painting after learning from her friend Zhou Jun, a public servant in the city's Dapuqiao community, about an anonymous philanthropist who donated 1,000 protective hazmat suits. The painting, with the words "he made me believe the world is truly a beautiful place" on it, quickly went viral. One of Chien's latest creations is inspired by an image Zhou posted on WeChat that shows public servants working through the night.
"As long as an artwork can touch people's hearts, I believe it is good art. It doesn't matter how simple it is," says Chien.