Professor And Artist Creates Postcards About Life In Isolation

“Deep Breath,” postcard submission by Executive Director of FIU’s Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator and an art associate professor Jacek J. Kolasinski

Irina Barneda/Staff Writer

People are currently experiencing a shift in everything they have ever known. Isolation is the new normal and with it comes different perspectives and methods of coping.

Executive Director of FIU’s Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator and art associate professor, Jacek J. Kolasinski, created two submissions for a project dedicated to documenting the effects of isolation on artists during the coronavirus quarantine.

The postcard project was organized by the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts to eventually print out the submissions and display them in a physical gallery.

“Because of the virus, there has not been a gallery opening yet,” said Kolasinski. “So essentially, this exhibition functions as a web page at this point.”

After Kolasinski graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, he stayed in contact with Pawel Nowak, a professor who began the postcard project.

“I spoke to Professor Nowak some time ago and I work with the art academy on many projects, connecting our university with them,” said Kolasinski. “For example, we did a project at Miami Urban Studios called “We Are Here,” where we featured works of both FIU students and Warsaw Academy students.”

Kolasinski thinks students benefit from displaying their work in professional spaces, including physical galleries and exhibitions in foreign countries.

“After submitting my two postcards, I told my students they could submit entries for extra credit,” said Kolasinski. “Many of whom got their artwork featured in the online gallery.”

Kolasinski did two pieces- one of them features a man dressed in a biomedical suit.

“When I was a kid, I often visited my grandparents on the eastern side of Poland not very far from Ukraine and very close to a military base,” said Kolasinski. “I would play in this vast area around the ruins of the bunkers from World War II.”

The military would often exercise around where Kolasinski played, and he would see soldiers dressed in biochemical suits.

“They would wear gas masks because they were training for biochemical warfare,” he said. “As a kid, that image was bizarre… they looked like they were from outer space and it stuck with me.”

Seeing biomedical suits protecting people from COVID-19 reminded Kolasinski of protective suits worn throughout history, specifically from the Black Death pandemic in the 14th century.

“When the black plague happened in Europe you’d have doctors wearing a suit with a sort of beak. The biomedical suit of today is similar to the old suit of the bubonic plague,” he said. 

Kolasinski’s second entry is a layered compilation of signs he saw and photographed around Coral Gables on a walk during the COVID outbreak.

“No Name,” postcard submission by Jacek J. Kolasinski

“Signage is very strictly controlled in Coral Gables, but as I walked around I realized that there were many signs that normally wouldn’t be there… signs showing commercial activities restaurants, food delivery, small businesses,” said Kolasinski. “These signs were created as a response to COVID-19. They served as a measuring tool for me to see the story of human and economic resilience and how people survive difficult times.

The signs used in the postcard can also be found on YouTube as an electronic book Kolasinski made, called “Takeout and Delivery: Digital Sketchbook.” 

For Kolasinski, being isolated has not been abnormal because it is how many artists spend their time while working. However, it has been challenging because of his theme of work.

“A lot of my work is research-based,” said Kolasinski. “I often need to go to the library because some things just can’t be found on the internet. I can’t go now since it is closed.”

While it can be hard to see self-isolation as positive, Kolasinski said that this is a time when people can catch up on a lot of things they usually would not.

“I was able to read many books that I never really had time to dive into and I’ve also been spending time learning how to teach online,” said Kolasinski.

COVID-19 has brought a time of discovery for Kolasinski.

“Let’s say you can’t go to your studio anymore because of COVID… ask yourself, how can you work out of your kitchen counter? Figure out how you can take the isolation of COVID-19 and readjust to it,” he said. “There are some fantastic examples in history of the creativity that comes out of a crisis.”

Kolasinski’s postcards and submissions from FIU students and alumni can be found at

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