Anxiety has been a constant over the last two years for many of us. Now Costa Rican artist Miranda Bruce explores these feelings in a new illustrated zine that tries to make sense of our mental health.
Born and raised in San José, Miranda Bruce obtained her BFA in Illustration from Parsons the New School for Design in 2016 and an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts in 2019. She describes her style as simple, whimsical and spontaneous. "I like to draw from surreal and playful imagery," she tells us. "I'm drawn to movement and rough textures, bright colours, and lots of black and white contrast. Overall I like to see my work and style as a constant self-portrait of who I am in that moment, how I feel and what I'm thinking."
Her latest self-published zine, titled Feel, revolves around those bursts of anxiety that we all experience, ones that can turn a minor problem into an overwhelming one. "There were so many changes happening, and so much uncertainty sparked a lot of anxiety," she says. "The feeling of not being able to control anything was heightened. We were forced to only look at things one moment at a time."
The zine features drawings from her sketchbook from moments during the pandemic when she tried to quieten her mind while expressing everything that was going on. "The start of the pandemic was nerve-racking. I was away from my family, and there was a lot of uncertainty about what would happen," she says. "Once it was clear this was going to take a while and that being at home was all you could do, there was a change in the attitude of just trying to make the best of the situation.
"This change allowed me to start working and exploring again. It was the main effect of Covid-19 on my work. At that time, I had to explore with what felt like no pressure. There were way fewer distractions, so I could focus more time on making whatever came to mind and trying new things. I now try to approach my work with this sense of time I experienced during the pandemic. It has made my work much freer."
Miranda's zine helped her in some way to overcome those uncertain times. But she did turn to other means to cope: "It's been a process, but I feel like I'm on the other side now," she says. "Therapy helped me throughout. The pandemic forced me to focus my energy on creating a routine and environment that gave me the most support and safety – focusing on what was in front without figuring out my whole life. Drawing is always a way of coping for me. It allows me to let things go. Taking them out of my head and putting them on a piece of paper is therapeutic. Time outdoors and exercising are also part of my daily practice to keep everything as balanced as possible. Now that restrictions have softened up a little, spending time with friends and family is also a blessing."