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  • Mixed-media digital collage

  • 18 inches wide, 24 inches high

Publication Date



Spanish Flu, Mixed Media Collage, Graphic Design, Coronavirus, Pandemic


Art and Design | Graphic Design


Despite the isolation, social distancing, and suffering of both the 1918 and 2020 pandemics, there remains a very real and very human touch: the contact made through letter correspondence. Revealing the names and daily lives behind the statistics and masks, these letters are filled with memories and testimonies. Through my research, I had the privilege of entering into their lives in small ways: the love story of a nurse caring for influenza patients in 1918; the doodles of a little boy in 2020; the diary of a farmhouse mother who recounts baking a cake and the death of a little girl to the flu.

Just as these joys and sufferings reach to the human heart as invitations to receive and respond to love, so do the letters in this design gather at a heart. The words take on a life of their own, no longer ink and paper but memory and touch; they rise from the paper and flutter around the heart. The heart, containing the photos of people from both pandemics, similarly takes on a dual meaning; it is both a symbol of our hearts holding our loved ones, and the “heart” of the letters holding memories and stories.

My process reflects the message of the design. Through my research, I could engage with each letter-writer's story and come to know them; in return, I included some of my own correspondence from the summer of 2020. These I arranged around a centerpiece (a vase) to help me to capture the gesture and motion that letters would have gathered around a heart. I could imitate this design by warping the letters in Photoshop. Moreover, the heart, as representative of personal memory and human touch, was rendered by hand with ink on paper. The act of physically drawing the heart impresses it in my memory; it allows me to tangibly touch my work in the same way that each letter-writer took pen to paper.

Mary Connor: 1918 & 2020 Pandemic Poster



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