AUSTIN GILL

On March 17th, 2020, I left New York City to come quarantine at my parent’s house in Oak Park, California, where I grew up. I spent several months there, from March to July, in what I thought to be ‘quarantine’. It wasn’t until I left California that I realized I had a completely unique experience to that of my friends abroad. The term ‘Lockdown’ wasn’t regularly used among my family and friends as it was used here in England. Instead, we had the term ‘Coronacation’, an excuse for a vacation brought on by the Coronavirus.

 In my hometown, the county lines of Ventura County and Los Angeles County run right through the center, so when the tidal wave of shutdowns spread across the cities, it drew a hard line and stopped in Oak Park, CA. Most everything in LA county had shut down; bars, restaurants, hair dressers, while Ventura County remained open, including beaches. The absurdity of the situation began to sink in when we realized that not even the news had answers on what to do. There was no official ‘lockdown’, therefore, no guidance on what was and what wasn’t allowed.


I spent my months in ‘quarantine’ exploring the abandoned cities, travelling around southern California, attending parties, camping, visiting friends, and going to bars and restaurants. The only difference I felt was the mask policy, and even that was not enforced. The images I took were a document of my time, a scrapbook of my life, unknowingly illustrating the differences in lockdowns around the globe.

 
 

T-Shirt designs have always been a passion of mine since I first started spray painting shirts in high school. I've never fully immersed myself into the art, but as I studied still photography, I started gaining more and more ideas for stencils. My first t-shirt (after the high school spray paint phase) stemmed from a photoshop mask of a friend I was working on. The black and white mask (silhouette) was a perfect stencil for a t-shirt and as a joke, I sent it off to be made. Since then, I've sent off numerous prints from different photoshop pieces I've worked on and during lockdown, I decided to try my hand at my own screen-printing. It's something I've tried before a few times so I knew the basic idea but I and never tried photo emulsion screen printing which is what these are above. The screens were coated with a light sensitive emulsion, and then exposed with an opaque acetate image of my photoshop designs. What transpired was a unique art form of the stencils themselves, rather than t-shirts they created.

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