The 1918 Influenza Pandemic

I made this animation to help shed light on the influenza pandemic of 1918, a fascinating subject that has been largely forgotten by the general public. The great challenge with this project was to successfully combine as many elements of a complicated topic as possible into a short animation without sacrificing clarity or consistency. Toward this end I tried to maintain an even flow between scenes, with elements from one scene blending into those in another. The combination of 2D with 3D animation required especially smooth transitions to preserve unity of style. Somber music also helped to minimize the inevitable shifts in tone as scientific exposition moved into more humanistic passages. By combining these disparate elements at a quick pace I tried to convey the chaos and urgency of the event.

Public Health and War

            This editorial art was completed to accompany an article in an upcoming issue of Northwestern Public Health Review, a publication of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The article dealt with the nexus of public health and war crimes tribunals in post-genocide Rwanda. My priority from the beginning was to place a collection of hopeful symbols in a desolate landscape to convey rebirth in the aftermath of unspeakable horror. My first efforts can be seen in the sketches at left. The green cross is an established symbol of health care - or so I thought. My classmates warned that it would be distractingly seen as a Christian symbol. My symbol for justice, the gavel, lacked the necessary gravitas. I was satisfied with the idea of a sapling emerging from rocky ground strewn with human remains. To that I added the caduceus, a more commonly recognized symbol of medicine and health. The scales of justice hanging from wings rounds out an admittedly complex collection of symbols that, I believe, manages to hold together to create a harrowing but ultimately forward-looking scene.

Heartburn

           This is another editorial work, completed as part of an upcoming feature for Esopus Magazine, an arts publication. I and 12 of my classmates were asked to provide art to illustrate testimonials from people who suffer from various ailments. My work will accompany this description of heartburn from "Tina E.": "I know this sounds like a cliché but when I get acid reflux it literally feels like my lower esophagus is on fire. I guess that’s why they call it heartburn." The challenge here was acknowledging the discrepancy between the malady's name and actual pathology, which affects the esophagus. I went with the logical first step and depicted the esophagus as literally on fire. Rendering the lower section as charred wood with glowing embers added a surreal, menacing contrast to the healthy pink stomach. Including the heart was tricky because it lies in front of the affected area. My first solution was to depict the heart realistically but with a hole in the center to show the fire, but this proved to be overly complicated and distracted from the central story. I settled on a more subtle depiction of the heart in lines that allowed for a complete view of the raging fire as well as of the vaguely defined surrounding viscera. The result is one of the more strange and arresting works in my portfolio.