Winner
Smoke and Mirror Neurons
by Holly Havens

The world can be a scary place for a child, it is so big and so much of it is brand new. I think we all experienced a childlike fear this year, a fear of the unknown. I wanted to express this in a way that made it easy to grasp. It was dark and cold and a little lonely, but we started a fire and made hot chocolate.

 

 

 

 

Winner
Reflection
by Jade Nguyen

I wanted my collage to focus on the word “reflection” through the concept of mirror neurons. I thought it would be a fun play on words and introduce the lack of empathy for others since there are fewer interactions during this pandemic. I symbolize self-reflection and mirror neurons through a broken mirror. The fractured mirror represents the breaking of mirror neurons, as we are forced to spend most of our time alone. I also added a smaller person holding an empty handheld mirror to represent the lack of interactions with another person since there is no other person to emulate.

 

 

 

Winner
Isolation
by  Neda Ghassemi

My project illustrates being isolated, the way I’m sure most all of us felt during COVID. I chose to use the neuroscience concept of mirror neurons and utilized the fantasize, distort, and subtract synectics for my design. They were used more subtly, but with a lot of intention behind each choice. The concept of mirror neurons really resonated with me, as I feel empathy and the connections you create with people, whether consciously or subconsciously, are extremely impactful and valuable. My concept creates an important narrative on isolation and the emotions that may come with it.

 

 

People’s Choice
Kindness Connects
by  Zarah Najmi

I wanted to show kindness as an ever-growing network that inspires and connects people together. I depicted the ASL sign for love, with a single path of the network going up the arm and then into the heart in the center, where it branches out into three more, each continuing to branch out into even more. This is representative of one person showing a little kindness which inspires a few more, who then inspire even more. The branches will continue to grow outwards, connecting more and more people through love and kindness.

 

 

 

Compassion vs. Empathy
Bonnie Abbott

Kindness is something that must be learned and practiced. There are two different ways you can practice kindness: through compassion and through empathy. Though these two seem very similar, they are in fact opposites. Compassion is maintaining one’s own mental state while recognizing someone else’s pain. Empathy is taking on someone’s pain. The article “Differential pattern of functional brain plasticity after compassion and empathy training” discussed the positive effects of compassion and the negative effects of empathy. This art work illustrates the stark difference between the two and why it is important to practice compassion as opposed to empathy.

 

 

 

Connection
by William Sweetser

It felt obvious to discuss how the 2020 Covid pandemic has relegated social interaction to online connection through Teams meetings and discord calls. During this pandemic I have been feeling very disconnected, as have all my friends that I have talked with. We all feel that our online connections are barely functioning as a supplement for in person time and these online hangouts often fall flat and feel disconnected. My piece attempts to evoke this feeling of dissociated connectivity caused by this physical distance.

 

 

Breaking out of the mold
by Michael Rodriguez

In neuroscience, the concept of a parasympathetic nervous system explains that by practicing empathy and compassion, you can not only increase the influence and strength of those emotions for yourself, but you also strengthen your resistance to stress, and depression. I found this idea very similar to the simplistic practice of muscle training, and decided to portray the brain as a projection of oneself; making my character appear physically strong and pink so that the viewer may make that connection. As the character changes throughout the piece, its body language changes from static and lifeless to confident and strong as it “breaks out of the mold”.

 

Color Within the Darkness
by Anthony Lopez

Even in the darkest of times, we must find it within ourselves the ability to find the positive in things. If not, slowly all color will seem to disappear, not only in our environment but within ourselves. Working to alter one’s self-regulatory style from one of self-criticism to one of self-reassurance is an important way of utilizing our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) to practice compassion and overcome the mental obstacles that we face in our lives. Self-criticism is a practice that can be very brutal but finding the strength to continually practice self-reassurance is how every one of us can become healthier and more resilient.

 

 

 

Dissonance
by Sydney Smith

A visual representation of the illusion of connection felt during COVID-19. So many ways to synthetically connect yourself to others, and yet they all seem to lead nowhere and lead to the illusion of empathy and fulfillment.

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Isolation
by Tania Kadar

My artwork, “The Art of Isolation”, as the name suggests, is inspired by the isolation following and revolving COVID-19. In many ways, this period of isolation has immensely impacted individuals and society, for the better and worse- which leads to the COVID concept for this piece: change. For me, this has been a crucial moment of self reflection for my identity and values as a Muslim woman, a queer artist, and an American teenager. Who am I? This question, as heavy as it may be, is an important one, and through this work I hope to unpack it.