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  • Mixed-media digital collage
  • 18 inches wide, 24 inches high

Publication Date



pandemic, collage, graphic design, poster, digital collage, COVID-19, Spanish Flu


Art and Design | Graphic Design


I would describe this collage as an unsuspectingly morbid interpretation of the pandemics of coronavirus and Spanish flu. In my research as well as in my day-to-day life, I found myself particularly interested in the trash that I have begun to notice piling up on the streets around me. There is litter in places I had never seen before, at a time when we are supposed to be acting with the utmost care.

This piece serves as an informative poster about two major devastations left in the ruins by both diseases. Humans are, of course, the first and most obvious victim; the deaths caused by both pandemics are staggering and leave gaping holes in the world of the past and present. Another more overlooked result, however, is the damage done to the earth by people leaving trash in horrific quantities. This excess trash is composed of masks, gloves, and posters urging cleanliness, among other things.

My process centered on a desire to get accurate and realistic depictions of garbage for each time period. I know what I see outside each day, so 2020 was as simple as picking my memory for the right imagery. For 1918, I searched for posters and re-created them with added age and wear to emphasize both the time as well as the discarded-ness and irrelevance with which such messages were treated. The abundance of garbage chillingly mirrors the steadily growing number of deaths.

With this in mind, I aimed to pair the two tragedies together, making the Grim Reaper (the collector of the souls of those passed) a garbage collector, responsible for clearing Earth of its waste — both human and material. In placing the dead directly next to items that were meant to protect them from these viruses (masks, informative posters), I acknowledge that the failure to accept help from what became trash is what ultimately leads/led to some of these people becoming the "waste" of the pandemics themselves.

Megan Emery: 1918 & 2020 Pandemic Poster



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