Creative in Confinement #1: Sara Yost

Teen fashions an artistic escape from lockdown

For Sara Yost, boredom actually hurts.
Senses blend together for the 18-year-old fashion designer and synesthete. She sees red in the number five; lavender and summer storms evoke a certain friend.

Photo by Rachel Yost

Boredom mutes those colors, says Yost, a high school senior whose roles as class president, volleyball team captain, and president of the diversity and equity council once kept boredom at bay. At the onset of lockdown, with friend dates canceled and classes all online, Yost retreated to her room and read for two days straight. Then the colors in her room began to fade. “I felt gross and slow and sticky,” she says, “like molasses. I hated it.”

Photo by Tricia Yost

There’s a special kind of heartache for young people in quarantine, who must social distance at a time when friendships hold keen importance and moods already run wild. Some live with abuse or food insecurity. Others mourn the missed milestones or, like Yost, squirm at the endless unfilled days. Art has helped some get through lockdown.

Miserable in her room, Yost spotted a gray flower pot on her desk. Also boring, she thought. Then, as it often does when she has an artistic impulse, her brain kicked into overdrive. She grabbed a paintbrush and covered the gray with writhing white ghosts and a quote from a favorite book: “It was a little creepy, sometimes, to have a dead friend.” Her bedroom became just a touch more interesting.

She scoured the house for more boring things to paint. Now, she’s covered half a dozen jars in butterflies and sunsets and jellyfish. Her home has become a rotating workstation. She paints at night and sews by day, so the sewing machine’s thrum doesn’t wake her parents. She hand-stitches bodices from her bedroom and cuts fabric on the kitchen floor, using household cleaners to wipe her dogs’ muddy pawprints from a gown of white polyester satin.

Self-portrait by Sara Yost

Art has always been a force in Yost’s life. It has helped her connect with her Mexican heritage and has served as a vehicle for her activism. In quarantine, art has transformed her confinement into a space for creativity.

With this, she follows the footsteps of her favorite painter, Frida Kahlo, whose own home confinement from illness and injury fueled some of her greatest work. Like Kahlo, Yost is making the most of what’s around her. All dull jars are up for grabs.

Though she doesn’t expect a masterpiece. “A lot of my friends feel bad because they’re not making art about quarantine. ‘I’m not in the struggle,’ they’ll say, ‘I’m just at home.’” She tells them to go easy on themselves. “We can just make friendship bracelets and that’s fine.” The point, she says, is to keep creating.

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Coronavirus, Sara Yost, Frida Kahlo, young artists, quarantine

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