Isolation of pandemic inspires Lansing Catholic student artist

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Ella Farlin poses with her painting, "Derealization."

Jordan Morgan

Ella Farlin poses with her piece "Derealization." She said she created the painting to explore the feelings that long-term isolation may have on someone.

Seventeen-year-old Ella Farlin experienced the pandemic just as the rest of the world did. She went through lockdown, did online school and dreaded COVID-19.

But Farlin used her experience during the isolation of this period to fuel something: a new art piece called “Derealization.”

The Lansing Catholic High School senior created “Derealization” as a part of a collection of art pieces based on her experiences as well as others around her during the pandemic. She said the piece is meant to encompass the emotions of detachment during 2020.

“I was thinking of all different kinds of people,” Farlin said. “When you’re like in isolation for too long and derealization was like a mental state where you detach from the surroundings. When you’re in one space for so long you have a hard time telling what’s real and what’s not.”

Over the years, the high school senior has taken a liking to drawing portraits of some of her favorite artists like singer Daniel Caesar and rapper Tyler the Creator. 

“Derealization” is Farlin’s first time using paint to create her art. She said she usually uses pencils for her artwork and although she found herself excited to use paint, it also scared her.

Farlin said her concentration on isolation has provided her with an opportunity to begin putting meaning behind her work and experiment with art forms she is unfamiliar with.

“Usually with my school art pieces I just draw to draw,” Farlin said. “But for this I wanted to put more meaning behind it, and I’ve never really done that before so I thought this would be a fun thing to do.”

Ron Krauss, an art teacher and conditioning coach at Lansing Cathloic High School, has been a mentor to Farlin. He describes his time with Farlin as a gift.

Krauss said he found “Derealization” moving because of his own feelings of detachment. He said the piece reminded him of the different ways one can become detached from the world.

Krauss said he is amazed at Farlin’s talent.

“Man, I don’t have any words that can even explain that,” he said “Really it is tears of joy. I mean, I’ve been looking at art all my life and to be wowed and amazed at what she has created in her short — very short — years of life, that’s amazing.  I would say she’s beating out many college students.

“She’s so good she makes me proud.”

Farlin has begun considering what she will do after graduating from high school. She said she hopes to attend Michigan State University and study graphic design, although she isn’t sure what she wants to do just yet.

“I don’t exactly want to go into fine arts, but I want to apply my art into something whether it’s design or concept stuff,” she said. “I’m not sure yet but I really want to incorporate art into my future. I’m not exactly sure yet but somehow.”

Ella’s mother Kim Farlin, who has been championing her artwork since she was young, hopes her daughter  knows how proud she is of her.

“I just want her to be happy,” Kim Farlin said. “If she wants to go into art, and that is the direction she wants to go, we will always support her. This is a part of her so I can’t imagine her not continuing on with this. What I want to tell her is just continue doing what makes you happy.”

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