Aashita Mathur

A Cardboard Cocoon

Class of: 2023

Major: Fashion Design BFA

Medium: Digital Photography

Faculty: Tamar Samir

Prompt: The purpose of this assignment was to practice thinking conceptually, research, and execute a photoshoot. The photoshoot needed to have a cultural commentary message and a clear, cohesive visual style. The photo/s could have been a commentary on the current situation with COVID-19 or another idea that contains cultural commentary.

Due to COVID-19, the unemployment rates in the United States are higher than ever before. Many families have no jobs because either their entire state has shut down everything or because certain businesses include too much human interaction and therefore cannot continue to run. My mother worked at a salon, which specialized in eyebrow threading. She has been out of work for almost a month now. The company my father works with is based in India and New York, both places that have shut down completely. Now my parents, like many others, have to pay for a mortgage, my school’s tuition, food, and daily necessities. The only source of income they have right now is a large online company called Artful Home and we help them ship their products. Since this is a large corporation and based online, it is still able to run. We have made hundreds of cardboard boxes which represent our only way of surviving right now. I decided to pose myself with these boxes in the best light source my house has, which are two windows that get beautiful sunlight around 5 pm. I thought this lighting that would create a dramatic setting against the boxes and my skin to illuminate them in way that made them more important than usually seemed. They are more significant and meaningful to us than they ever were during normal times. Understanding the value of things that did not matter to us before is a great lesson that has come out of the COVID situation, and is the reason I chose to use those simple cardboard boxes as the main subject of the shoot.