COVID19 Reflections

Courtesy of Jiaqu Lu

Jiaqi Lu

Jiaqi Liu is a New York City-based artist. Originating from Beijing, China, Jiaqi moved to the United States to pursue her education at the age of thirteen. This cultural collision has become an essential part of her artwork, allowing her viewers to see the world through diverse perspectives.

Jiaqi is currently pursuing her BFA at the Department of Photography and Imaging at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, with a double-minor in Computer Science and Business in Entertainment, Media, and Technology. Mediums do not limit her imagination. She has created collaborative artworks in multiple mediums such as film, photography, new media, etc.


Jiaqi's works have been selected for multiple honors and awards at the national as well as international level, and have been showcased at prominent galleries and theaters such as the Metropolitan Museum of Arts and the AMC Empire 25 Theaters at Times Square. She has also worked as a photographer/videographer for renowned entertainment events in China and the United States including the New York Fashion Week, Strawberry Music Festival, and Modern Sky Music Festival.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow proposed a theory of the hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" in Psychological Review. He uses the terms "physiological", "safety", "belonging and love", "social needs" or "esteem", and "self-actualization" to describe the pattern through which human motivations generally range from low to high. I believe now, during this global pandemic of COVID-19, it is a good time to analyze this theory through social response. Normally, for a developed country like the United States, it is rare to see a large number of people having desperate “physiological” and “safety” needs. However, during this pandemic, as people are worrying about whether or not they can stay safe and healthy, they are also in fear of losing access to basic physiological supplies, since this public health crisis has influenced the overall social structure and economy tremendously.


I visited Costco and Walmart--two of America's biggest supply stores. I contrasted parallel images of empty racks of highly demanded basic human need supplies during this pandemic(for example, food, water, toilet paper, etc.) with images of full racks of normally favored products that supply higher needs during regular times(decorations, clothing, toys, etc.). When even staying alive safely becomes a problem, no one cares about the higher needs. I tried to pair images that have similar compositions together to make the comparison obvious, in order to generate further discussions about the levels of human need.

Into the Anthropocene. I investigate places throughout the Western United States where the natural ecosystem has been altered or destroyed to provide for our burgeoning populations. In the Palouse grasslands - now wheat fields - of eastern Washington, a mono-crop landscape terraformed through agricultural commerce creates a sense of bucolic perfection while disguising the underlying impact of single crop planting. Old and new energy extraction techniques are compared using images from the largest thermal solar plant on earth at Ivanpah in California, and the Cholla coal burning power plant near Winslow, AZ. Finally, the “bathtub ring” high water mark - which will never again be attained - at Lake Mead in Arizona illustrates how the demand for water has changed the landscape. In each location, I was simultaneously dazzled and disturbed by the scope of these transformations - many occurring in my lifetime. What was revealed I found compelling - strangely alien but completely human. By allowing human intervention to speak over the landscape itself in my images, I imagine a new landscape, more of its Age, that expresses dilemmas faced when considering exploitation or preservation. 

Jiaqi Lu

Jiaqi Lu

Jiaqi Lu

Jiaqi Lu

Jiaqi Lu

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