Royal Ontario Museum and NFA present story of the pandemic through kids’ eyes

Who: Royal Ontario Museum, with No Fixed Address.

What: #MyPandemicStory, a crowd-sourced art exhibition that tells the story of the pandemic through the eyes and lived experiences of young Canadians aged four to 18.

When & Where: The call for art submissions went out in late April, with a 15-second video shared across social channels and amplified through influencer outreach. Submissions will be accepted until June 27, with a curated exhibition running in the fall.

Why: Like most other public spaces, the ROM has been closed for most of the pandemic. But as an institution that strives to help people understand remarkable moments in history, it had a role to play in helping capture this moment as it unfolded.

“The pandemic experience has been dominating conversations for over a year, but it is primarily only through the eyes of adults. We were inspired by looking at the lesser-told story—the experience of our kids and teens,” said Erin Banting, director of PR at No Fixed Address, which has been working with ROM on PR and influencer projects since the fall.

How: Young people 18 and under are being invited to share their stories and experiences about life during the pandemic through their own work of art in any medium they choose—from a song to a painting, a video or sculpture. The work will be reviewed by the ROM, with selected work appearing in a free exhibition in the fall.

“The hope is that exhibition visitors will reflect on and process their own memories and feelings during the pandemic, and share their experiences with friends and family,” said a statement about the new project.

The image at the top of this post is from Jessica, who lives in Toronto and belongs to the 16-18 cohort: “My artwork is a visual representation of how my life during this pandemic has felt like. Being stuck to my desk from morning to evening working on school work. I have sat in that chair for a long enough time that mushrooms could grow, almost like one of those stone statues that have been left untouched for a long time that plants have started to take over.”

And we quote: “The pandemic created new obstacles, but it also presented us with an opportunity to evolve the way we engage with our community and capture history as it unfolds in real time. For the #MyPandemicStory initiative recognizing the value of children’s perspectives, experiences, and creative output is critical for this exhibition to be a success.” —Lori Davison, chief marketing and communications officer, Royal Ontario Museum.

David Brown