Artist-In-Residence 2021

  • What was your initial reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown on March 13, 2020?
  • One year on, how has your living situation evolved as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions?
  • With so many of our movements restricted, how did you create a sense of normalcy?

This spring 2021, artist, designer, and visual storyteller Nilou Moochhala will explore the impact of the pandemic on our community. More than a year ago, when COVID-19 came to our town, safety guidelines closed down much of public life and severely limited gatherings with family and friends. The dangers posed by an unpredictable virus seemed everywhere.

At that point, Moochhala, who lives with her family in Arlington, began a daily sketch practice. Drawing became an important way for her to devote a few minutes every day to reflection, and to process thoughts/emotions as related to the on-going lockdown. These images are created through a type of meditative mark-making: using color, texture, the rhythm of shapes and movement of line to record a moment during this difficult time. To date, she has completed 365 pandemic ‘virus’ sketches.

The experiences informing Moochhala’s sketches will resonate for many Arlingtonians. Isolated from family, friends and neighbors, navigating an unprecedented situation and difficult emotions, living with fear and uncertainty, and processing news accounts of the impact of the virus on the wider world are some familiar challenges many of us have faced.

For her Artist-in-Residence project, Nilou will build on her pandemic visual practice and create new abstract drawings in response to local ‘storytelling’ interviews. These interviews will attempt to capture how others in the community were navigating the pandemic – from Town officials to public health professionals, from essential workers to local businesses, and of course, a wide variety of residents. The drawings will be turned into “meditation flags” – a format inspired by Buddhist and other traditions to be installed in the pine forest of one of Arlington’s Menotomy Rocks Park. The specific site will be at a clearing where an existing ring of gathered branches lie on the forest floor – and these ‘meditation flags’ will build on the energy of that natural structure to create a space for reflection, healing and contemplation.

We would love to hear YOUR STORY during this unprecedented time, and invite you to participate by using our on-line questionnaire below.

On-Line Questionnaire: Contribute Your Story!

How has the last year of isolation and uncertainty affected you and those around you? What has been most challenging? Have there been moments of grace? Who has helped you get through these challenging times?

As part of her residency, Nilou has developed an on-line questionnaire designed to make it easy for anyone to share their perspective and experiences during the pandemic.  We invite anyone who lives, works, goes to school, or has another significant connection to Arlington to participate.  Your contribution will inform and inspire Moochhala’s new abstract drawings for her installation. Your response will be added to the Robbins Library COVID archive, where it will be preserved for future generations wishing to understand this life-changing time.

We have been making history; now we invite you to reflect on and record that history in your own authentic voice.

Fill out the questionnaire at — and then pass on the link to friends and colleagues!  Help us develop a collection of stories that reflects and honors the diversity of our community.


“I want to offer a tranquil place to pause and reflect during this challenging time.”

The site, in Menotomy Rocks Park