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Western Wisconsin COVID-19 Archive Project

Collected Item: “The Adversary”

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The Adversary

Provide us with a brief description of this object and, if it is not obvious, how it connects with the Chippewa Valley. For example, if this object is an image describe for us what the image displays and why it is significant.

I love to make photoshopped collages - in particular, the contrast between old woodcuts and modern environments and situations has always been intriguing to me due to its ability to create a timeless atmosphere, like the problems we’ve faced have been reminiscent of problems people in the past had to deal with. This is one of the most important facts of history to me - that the people in the past were not unlike us, and had many of the same hopes, dreams, and fears that we do now.
There was a trend in old artistic reputations around the time of the Black Plague to represent it as a walking skeleton - Death - which would accost people on the road, whom no one was safe from. This is broadly similar to COVID. My hope is with this collage, it will reveal something transformative about the pandemic we’re facing. Specifically with the death-skeleton figure, he isn’t wearing a mask while the traveller in my collage is: he represents both the pandemic and anti-maskers, a group of people who I really feel a lot of antipathy for in how they seemingly don’t care about the health of other people compared to their personal comfort. Hence the Biblical quote: “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary [the devil] walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” There’s a lot of overlap between Anti-maskers and the Christian right-wing, and beyond the fact that I find religious symbolism compelling I thought it was a fitting reference to include in the piece.
This is a work of art, which can be in itself a primary source. It shows an emotion I feel walking on the streets that is hard, exactly, to put into words - an anxiety that I’ve developed whenever I see some guy walking down the street without the mask. It’s not even an anxiety for me; I have already received a vaccine shot. I guess it’s a sort of social anxiety, or an anxiety at the world. Again, very hard to explain; art is for saying things in one image what it might take a long time to explain on your own. I know that in our class, we’ve examined pieces of art such as casta paintings which revealed the social conditions in Latin American society, or the arpilleras which were created as an act of resistance and showcasing the crimes of Pinochet, but in all honesty I don’t know if my piece passes the level of social revelation required there. I don’t know if this really relates directly to many artistic representations which we’ve seen in class in all honesty - if I wanted to be really pretentious, I might connect the skeleton to Mictlantecutli, the Aztec god of the dead and cannibalism, who was depicted as a skeleton, and tie that back to the line of a ‘roaring lion seeking whom he may devour,’ but that feels almost hackneyed, and disrespectful to two actual belief systems. Despite that though, I am pleased with this piece. I think it’s important to capture what people are feeling in an image that can be artistically examined by people to determine the societal mood at the time.

When was this item created? Please use a "month day, year" format, for example, "April 10, 2020."

May 5, 2021

Share with us the geographic location where this item was created. Please include, if possible, a ZIP code and an address or cross streets to help us map this location. For example, "Rice Lake, Wis., 54868, intersection of Main and Knapp."

Eau Claire, WI

Who created this object?


Tell us who is contributing this object to the Covid-19 archive. For example, "John Smith."


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Health and medicine

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