Photo Essay | When masks keep us from expressing ourselves

Grace Walraven | @grace_walraven, Photographer

The New Normal Project is a collection of photo series shot by UA student photographers that highlights how their perception of what is “normal” has changed during the year 2020. Each photo series focuses on one aspect of a photographer’s life that has changed during the past few months, ranging from representing their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic tackling social justice issues to looking at how life on campus has changed. All of the photo series will be accompanied by a statement from the photographer about their work. If you are interested in contributing to The Crimson White’s New Normal Project, please reach out to our photo editor, Hannah Saad, at [email protected]

During the pandemic our lives have been upside down and filled with anxiety, uncertainty and fear. A new part of life has been wearing a mask when we are in public. We wear them as a way to protect others, but we lose a part of our expression. Our faces can tell others how we are feeling and give insight to what we are thinking. I wanted to give a visual representation to what I have felt, and many others have felt, during the pandemic. I wanted to show the chaos and fear that comes with going out and having to wear a mask. There is an ever-present reminder that life has changed and nothing is normal. There is a deep-rooted fear and sadness for the past and future. However, we are learning to use masks to represent our personalities with fun fabrics and adding them as another part of personal style. The mask has become a part of the new normal.