Museum of Early Trades & Crafts

A New Jersey Artist's Perspective of COVID-19 from Los Angeles

By Brittany Goodwin | April 15, 2020


My name is Brittany Goodwin & I was born in Cedar Knolls, NJ. I now live in Los Angeles, but on my recent return to NJ in February, I came by the museum and loved looking around!

COVID-19 has affected me on a few different levels. My parents still live in Cedar Knolls and my father is deemed an essential worker, working at the hardware store. He is 75 years old and has had cancer. My father is given gloves and a mask when he reports to work, and assures me he is good at staying away from most people, working the 5am-10am shift stocking in the back. He returns home and does all humanly possible to sanitize. I worry about them constantly throughout the day.

A dear friend of mine who had been battling cancer lost his fight last Monday, and died alone at the hospital because his family could not be in the facility and only a few nurses are placed in the cancer ward because all hands need to be on deck for COVID patients. I was due to be home for Easter, and in normal circumstances, I would have been able to go to the hospital, attend a service, and grieve. Brian can not have a funeral because people can not assemble together in these times. It all seems so evil.

I am an opera librettist and stage director, I had a tour of my opera Exposure mounting as well as two other world premiers in New York City and South Carolina. None of these works of mine have been postponed yet because we don’t know when we will be able to leave our homes and assemble. Will anyone have spare money to see opera? Support the creation of new opera?

We artists talk constantly — on Zoom , on Instagram , on the phone — and we talk about what the world will need to see when they begin to patronize the arts again. Comedy? Community stories? Its a forecast thats hard to predict, and even more so, to channel lightheartedness into our works when the world outside is so dismal.

I studied in England in university through Fairleigh Dickinson, and a prominent memory was mealtimes. Everyone was a stickler about not wasting food and only taking the amount of food you knew you were going to eat. Being in our 20s, this sounded like a bizarre, infantile rule to be explaining to us. Finally, I had asked a professor why people were so passionate about food waste. He explained to me that England still very much has a wartime rationing mentality. WWI left the English very low on food and they had to ration, and at this point in my life, WWI was less than 100 years ago, so I could understand that generationally speaking, it was still prevalent in homes and families. I keep thinking that we are the generation that will adapt these types of philosophies — yes, food rationing, but also living in excess, keeping spaces clean, the power of communication and human contact.

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