NEW RIEGEL, Ohio — A New Riegel High School senior’s drawing of a weeping graduate amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has gone viral after it was shared by her teacher on social media.
At the beginning of the school year, art teacher Claire Hibbard gave her senior portfolio students an assignment for a “passion project” meant to evoke emotion.
17-year-old senior Kaitlyn Kirian said at that time, she wasn’t sure what she’d do her project on.
“I couldn’t find a topic that I felt passionate enough about, but when this happened, I knew I could draw something that showed emotion,” Kirian told TiffinOhio.net News. “I know life has changed dramatically for everyone recently, this was just a way for me to get my emotions on paper.”
Kirian said she didn’t expect the amount of attention the artwork has received, but as of Sunday, her photo had been shared on social media over 100,000 times.
“I’m just a 17-year-old girl in high school, but the fact that I have been able to inspire so many other people, and my picture has touched so many other people, has meant so much to me,” Kirian said.
She said her interest in art really developed in high school when she took her first class with Hibbard. “She really pushed me to be a better artist, and I found charcoal to be one of my stronger suits, which is what this drawing was made from,” Kirian said.
After graduating from high school, Kirian says she plans to attend Bowling Green State University and major in special education.
“I talked to my classmates a little bit, and right now everyone is overwhelmed and they’re not really sure what to think about this. We’re still unsure of what’s happening with our graduation, everyone’s just kind of shocked right now,” Kirian said.