CAPTURE THIS MOMENT III: A Group Photo Essay Documenting This Unique Time
Nancy Kaye, Instructor and Curator
Participants: Batsheva Frankel, Eileen Gallo, Leslie Geffen, Miriam Hutchinson, Nancy Kaye, Randi King, Judi LeWinter, Donald Loze, Debra Ruby, Claudia Schatz, Rabbi Lynn Brody Slome, Debbie Wolf
The workshop, lead by Nancy Kaye—professional photographer, educator, and curator—served not only as a creative outlet for students, but also as a way of sharing experiences and connecting with others in an empathetic way. You can join the next workshop, starting December 2. Register here.
Organized by the Soraya Sarah Nazarian Program in Fine Arts
Chief Curator, AJU: Dr. Rotem Rozental
As the pandemic entered its eighth month, autumn weather meant more indoor activity, the presidential campaigning meant more risks were taken, and COVID-19 cases hit record highs in parts of the USA. This setback and the longevity of the pandemic have triggered a range of feelings—from sadness and distress to gratitude and joy.
Participants in October’s Capture This Moment photo workshop took an artful approach to expressing their emotions, personal experiences, and observations of their surrounding communities. Many photos rely on visual metaphor to symbolize those feelings. We see decorative objects arranged as reminders of happier times, while other photos show scenes or subjects whose personal meaning is interpreted in the photographer’s statements.
It is clear that months of isolation have created longing and loneliness. Fear and resignation guide how we have modified our routines. And seeing the pandemic through the eyes of children is a bittersweet reminder of how uncertainty has become routine and how even children have adapted to current circumstances.
The pandemic, as reflected in this group photo essay, has altered our lives. One recurrent sentiment that emerges is that there’s comfort in sharing our stories.
To view the June 2020 Exhibition, click here.
To view the July 2020 Exhibition, click here.
To view the August 2020 Exhibition, click here.
A huge challenge for my family since Covid struck is not being able to invite guests for Shabbat. We’re known in our community for having a lively Shabbat table filled with guests. We even had a website where anyone can sign up to join us. It’s such a source of joy for us. So, it has been very painful that since March we have not been able to have any guests. In these photos, I wanted to convey the challenge, the sadness, and the sense that life goes on anyway for us every Shabbat.
In March 2020 the idea of wearing a mask was beginning to take hold. I observed masks of all varieties, shapes, colors, and patterns on my daily neighborhood walks. It was community awareness at its best. A push for the common good. What started as the voice of solidarity soon turned into a defiant message for individual rights. Angry voices shouting, “You can’t make me wear a mask.” “You can’t tell me what to do.” This politicized polarization has taken a dark, dangerous turn. Our COVID-19 cases are rising; our collective energy is sinking.
“Jeannie with the light brown hair” is my mom. How I miss her so.
She has been with me in a different way since the pandemic hit.
It’s not a mourning on her yahrzheit date. It’s a missing.
A daily urge to call, to hear her voice. She isn’t here to put her arms around me. I take her to sleep wrapped in my arms, bundled up under the covers.
This way I have her protection until morning.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, the Skirball Cultural Center honored Ruth Bader Ginsberg with a drive by memorial. I went and observed a line of cars with people coming to pay tribute to this iconic woman. People were permitted to exit their cars for three minutes and leave an offering to honor her legacy. It was very emotional, many tears shed. A pivotal transition for the United States.
Everything is different now because of the pandemic, including Halloween parties and trick-or-treating. But in spite of these abnormal times, many people still put out their Halloween decorations and prepare for the upcoming election.
I often wonder what the homeless think about the candidates, not having a TV to watch, a radio to listen to, stores closed, streets deserted. I know this man can’t vote. You need an address for that. Does he know how one candidate seems perennially out of control, a canon waiting for a match? Does he know the other is as cool as a cucumber? Can he envision how different America would be under each? I find the headline comforting. A gush or relief washes over me.
While walking in the park, I saw an election ballot box and a young woman with a mask that said “VOTE.” She shared that she worked for one of the campaigns and was there to take a video of someone voting. She was so proud of how hard she had worked for the last two years, and I wanted to capture her enthusiasm, passion, and optimism.
Baseball held its 2020 season by having players regularly tested for COVID-19, and, during the playoffs, living together in “safe” pods. The games were a welcome distraction from politics and pandemic news. The intensity and joy of closing in on a World Series win are captured in a screenshot of pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Unfortunately, teammate Justin Turner’s positive test results came back during the final game; he nevertheless participated in the award ceremony, putting other players at risk.
These days, when people are ill with things other than COVID-19, they are hesitant to go to the emergency room, for fear they will catch it there. My husband was feeling very ill—non-coronavirus related—but because he has a strong underlying heart condition, he, too, hesitated. In the end, I took him to the emergency room, which was eerily empty.
It used to be hard to find a place to be photographed here that didn’t have people behind every lamppost. Now, fear of THE OTHER has taken on a new meaning. Or are there just too many rules to follow? A constant emotion these days—FEAR.
The last time I was out in a big crowd was a Purim celebration, one week before everything shut down. We were all joyously wearing masks, but of a completely different kind. Now that beautiful, celebratory mask I wore on Purim is only for indoors and the masks we need to wear now outside are the opposite of joyous and celebratory.
While grocery shopping during the pandemic, I observed a woman wearing a shield over her mask. Having seen customers wearing only masks, I was struck by my emotional reaction. I felt anxious and uncomfortable, like I was living in a different world where there was no normal. I assumed she felt protected, but perhaps she felt vulnerable. The pandemic has made me feel uncertain and disconnected.
The constant disagreement over wearing a mask or not has unfortunately turned into a political issue instead of a health issue. I feel anger and disbelief when I see those maskless faces. It’s frustrating to always be the one who walks out of the way to create distance. To me, this picture represents all those who wear masks as the ones who choose to take the high road.
The discarded, dirty, and forgotten masks can be seen everywhere now. While we support the wearing of masks, no one wants them to become a pandemic of their own.
This is my new fashion statement: “I will keep you safe while I protect myself, too.” We try to read each other’s eyes while longing to see real and full facial expression.
These days, on the rare occasion that I actually go somewhere like the store, I only put make-up on the top part of my face, saving lots of money on lipstick and blush. But I try to match my mask to my outfit as best I can!
This plant covered with a mask and eyes made me laugh out loud back in May. Now, in October, it is grown out and the eyes have faded. It makes me sad since this pandemic feels like it is going on forever. Cody, however, is unaffected and happy regardless of what’s happening in the world. I want to be like Cody.
Although we keep our distance from one another, messages and symbols are a way to reach out and communicate. I find comfort in seeing others honor the importance of wearing a mask as protection from the coronavirus.
“My mommy usually throws me a party with all my cousins and friends. She told me this year had to be different and that we would celebrate quietly at home. I was sad in the beginning, but it turned out okay because I got the cake all to myself.”
When the pandemic began, lots of people were drawing on the sidewalk. This one says something I really like. Cody, my dog, makes me smile every day and gives me so much joy. I don’t know if I could have gotten through this time without him.
My granddaughter’s eighth birthday celebration was in contrast to the large parties of previous years. The pandemic has provided Hayley much more time at home with her family, and she treasures it. Her tiny birthday gathering was filled with love, family, puppies, and pure joy.
His life has become smaller and void of extended family and friends. Is he dreaming of riding his new bike with friends? Is he dreaming of coming to Gramma’s house to bake cookies and have a sleepover? Maybe he’s dreaming of making soccer goals, awesome basketball shots, or just playing on the park equipment. He will wake up happy, having a fleeting memory of the fun he had while sleeping.
My little dog seems to know that things are different now. She stays close and follows me everywhere. When I prepare to go out, she’s right there, pleading with her eyes and, maybe a small whimper, to let her come. I can’t resist and give in. Her company and endearing devotion has helped me get through the solitude and quarantine of the pandemic.
After months of quarantining, everyone’s ready for some fun. But this year Halloween has no treats in store for us. No overindulging in candy till your teeth ache, cooing over adorable costumes, caramel apples. Only tricks. A stick up your nose, wracking chest pain, or, God forbid, a ventilator or losing someone you love. A constant, permanent emotion—fear!
This runner keeps his stride, even with a menacing spider hanging overhead. Scary Halloween decorations are everywhere. But nothing is as scary as the invisible coronavirus, which, we’re told, can lurk anywhere.
This Holy Communion photo was shot through the gates of the church parking lot. I was so happy to see my granddaughter enjoy her friends. I very much appreciate the strength of the school and the church community for my son and his family. It was a bittersweet reminder of me being a single mom and not being able to create such a community experience for my only child.
They’ve seen each other’s faces on their school iPads, so recognizing each other with masks was no big deal for these four and five year olds eager to play! It made my heart glad to see them thriving in spite of the limitations posed by quarantine and the pandemic.
My one-year-old grandson has gotten used to the sight of all of his family masked, and decided he didn’t want to be left out! My heart lifted and my smile must have shone through my own mask when I saw this “masked” kidlet at play.
My almost five-year-old grandson gets a little stir crazy in quarantine. His relief and joy at having a run in the fresh air and open space up at the UCLA Sculpture Garden was palpable.
Siblings engage in a playful exchange while adapting to the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic. Do they miss friends and school?
In the early days of the pandemic, I put on my mask and ventured out for a cautious walk around Lake Balboa. It was much less populated than “in the old days,” and felt a little deserted and lonely. Then I came across this sweet, encouraging message—author and artist unknown. It lifted my spirits and awakened my gratitude. We are a community and we can offer comfort to one another in ways large and small.
I’ve taken so many Zoom classes and watched so many webinars that my “screen time” has skyrocketed, as my phone keeps reminding me. One of my favorite webinars is Natural Habitat’s Daily Dose of Nature. They brought viewers some unexpected delight when they posted this very helpful—and graphic!—sign during one of the animal webinars. Humor and creativity most welcome!
Looking down from our bedroom window,
past the sycamore’s leaves,
the view further extends the social distancing
of the chairs set for conversation.
After not seeing family in person for months, I was so excited to finally have them over for a patio visit. I wanted to make sure we were going to sit a safe distance apart.
When I was growing up, staying safe crossing a street meant “looking both ways before crossing.” With COVID-19, I now have to add “stay germ free.”
The stark contrast between my husband’s formal and informal attire while he’s Zoom calling with a judge just makes me smile. I took the shot once he stopped pacing during his call and settled into his makeshift desk. Everyone is now forced to do so many things differently. It brings up split emotions for me—sadness for all the suffering alongside gratitude that I am safe and secure.
Not being able to hug and cuddle with family members—especially grandchildren!—has been one of the hardest, most painful parts of the pandemic for me. I’m supremely grateful that we have technology that helps soften the pain of separation, at least temporarily. Interacting with my two-year-old granddaughter in Denver on FaceTime gives me moments of great joy!
School via Zoom has opened up a whole new world for my almost five-year-old grandson. Unmasked, he can see his classmates and his teacher, and engage in a wide variety of activities. He has enthusiastically decided that this way of learning can be fun!
While visiting my granddaughter and her newborn sister, we took all precautions and stayed socially distanced. Their parents told us that the eight-year-old was sent back inside to attend a Zoom class, but instead she created a paper heart and taped it to the window to keep “socializing” and stay connected. I love her always-present creativity and how she uses it to express herself.
What do you do for a family birthday? We’re not cavalier about this virus, like some. We don’t let our hearts govern our sensible minds. So, in order to even hug on this special day, COVID-19 tests had to be taken by all. But somehow, it just isn’t the same. Skin to skin contact is so crucial for thriving—as shown by neglected Romanian orphans denied it because no one was available to hold them. Can I wait? Longing overtakes us all.
When I passed this woman, I left offerings of water, protein bars, and some cash. A daughter, perhaps a mother, sister or aunt? What had her life been like? Was she loved? Her eyes were tired, vulnerable, and I could feel her pain. I felt ashamed taking the photo, as if I had intruded in her small space. She gently bowed her head. We never know where our journey leads us.
There are undoubtedly pandemic days when many of us awaken feeling rusty, coiled with tension or distress— but then what? I’ve found that if I make an effort to smile, to reach for a positive thought or memory, that helps dissolve at least some of that rust, uncoils a bit of that stress, and lets me greet a new day. This lawn figure felt like my kindred spirit in COVID-19 time!
Since mid-March, my solo senior bubble has been very tight. There are days I don’t leave my apartment, don’t see another soul. I decided it would be fun to create a little happy tableau on one of my bookcases, including some of my favorite activities. I’ve found a little humor brightens the day, and reminds me of good times past and future!
Resting between the brass pulls on the antique pine chest,
the white tipped red tulips stand and bend in homage
to the potter’s dripping red leaves on the pitcher’s sides.
At the base, a fallen tulip petal joins a single, sleeping stem,
sacrificed to echo the old and the new.
The delicate beauty of a passionflower symbolizes life’s preciousness and fragility. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve seen how contagious and deadly COVID-19 is, and how following health guidelines puts safety into our own hands.
It gets kinda lonesome when you are a solo senior in a tight pandemic bubble, so the arrival of a couple of morning doves on my balcony was an unexpected novelty at first. They might have been there before but I’d been too busy to notice! I got a feeder and some seed, my binoculars and camera, and all of a sudden, I had company! Gradually they started coming more often and staying longer. I see them “hanging out,” mating, squabbling, kissing, and chasing one another. First there were two; now there are often five. These new “friends” have enlivened my days, bringing anticipation, delight, and humor.
Walking one morning, I saw reminders of how people used to be out and about on foot and on bikes. It wasn’t that long ago, and their imprints are still etched in the soft sandy dirt. Now it is lonely and we go out of our way to give each other separation. It feels very isolating.
Life has fallen off track. None of us could have imagined this coming our way. Now we wonder, how long will this “bump” in our lives continue on?
Watching the plane against the rich blue sky raised a deep and sad sigh from me. Trips cancelled, flight credits accumulating, and all we can do is wait and wish and pray to once again adventure into countries far away.
Picture this—summer of 2020 in Tucson, Arizona during COVID-19. The temperature is in the 100s during the day and the 80s at night. Now, add wearing a mask and gloves when you dare to leave your house. Summer plans at the beach have been canceled. After months of keeping yourself safe, you decide to take a chance. You drive for hours and there it is…finally!