Jacksonville artist hopes her work will defeat stereotypes created during pandemic

Elena Øhlander: "Xenophobia"
Elena Øhlander: "Xenophobia"

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville artist has created a new body of work she’s hoping will break down stereotypes amid the anxiety and fear spread by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elena Ohlander said the inspiration for her latest body of work came from friends and family in China, hearing their firsthand fearful accounts of the coronavirus.

“I started to see in the media, news reports about some Asian discrimination, not just in America, but around the world,” Ohlander said.

Ohlander said a recent piece was created after she saw a poster for the new Mulan movie, which had been spray painted over with the words: “Made in Wuhan.”

“I started thinking about those words and how I could represent that in my work," Ohlander said. “I hope to promote positive change by bringing awareness to the topic and giving people a moment to stop and consider how others feel showing empathy and compassion at a time when I really think we need it the most.”

Ohlander said she worries more about she and her daughter’s safety going to the grocery store through the danger of discrimination during this pandemic than the actual virus. She’s hoping her art will open other peoples’ eyes.

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