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Lauren Li​
Temple City High School​|Temple City, California​
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Wash Your Hands!|12.2 x 13.2 in. Material(s): digital​. Process(es): overflowing water, excess soap, and expression shows paranoia from getting infected at school​.
Curatorial Note: powerful stories of the everyday during the pandemic.​
“For my sustained investigation, I inquired into how COVID-19 has impacted students’ lives, whether it be at school or in their home environment. I aspire to capture the psychological effects that students have been experiencing as a result of the pandemic and also focus on the isolation felt by many after coming out of quarantine through a series of realistic but stylized visuals.”


My sustained investigation regards COVID’s impact on students' lives.
At the beginning of the year, COVID was still a prevalent and concerning issue. I wanted to portray the paranoia of staying clean in fear of becoming infected. I decided to use cold colors to emphasize this chilling feeling. I also decided to exaggerate the amount of soap and water to display this growing paranoia of many students. In addition, I utilized the signs and posters in my piece that I have seen in my own school bathrooms that have been translated into multiple languages to get the message across to multiple students of different cultural backgrounds. I titled this piece “Wash Your Hands!”
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Lauren Li​
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Reach Out |12.6 x 18.1​ in. Material(s): digital​.
Process(es): use of lighting and leaning on shoulder to express hope, reliance, and reaching for help.
Curatorial Note: Powerful stories of the everyday during the pandemic.​
I named this piece “Reach Out.” For my final sustained investigation, I wanted to portray a personal lesson that I learned from my experiences during COVID. I wanted to show that it is important to reach out when under stressful times, and this can be shown through mental health pamphlets. I also used brighter colors that contrasted my previous pieces, which use more cold or dull colors. Furthermore, I emphasized lighting to give a hopeful mood and used a plant budding to also give a symbol of hope to my piece.

Teacher Statement

Mihee Kim
An exemplary and one of the most dedicated, Lauren Li demonstrated a strong work ethic, creativity, flexibility, and willingness to go the extra mile, and always delivered high-quality work. With the level of complexities in her inquiry development tied in with research, critical thinking component, and personal experience of living in the midst of the Pandemic, Lauren was able to fully engage in all aspects of the most frightening and confusing time of her life as she fully submerged herself in all levels of behavior, emotional, and psychological impact of Covid-19 Pandemic through the lens of a 16-year-old high school student. She further made the connection by using her immediate environment as a source of motivation and revealed the reality of the unsettled state of mind, fear, and loss, and poignantly captured all stages of human emotions caused by the ripple effect of the Pandemic. Moreover, she successfully navigated this journey by engaging the viewers as active participants, as we all have experienced and lived through the sheer devastation and despair of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
During the entire process of creating her sustained investigation, Lauren took a proactive approach in asking questions, exploring all possibilities, practicing, experimenting, and revising her work, and completely engaged in the art-making process with the communication line open for dialogue. Being diligent, meeting high expectations, and delivering exemplary work in the span of two weeks can be overwhelming, mentally, and physically challenging. Therefore, regular emotional and mental well-being check-ins helped tremendously as well as creating a safe environment for the students to be authentic to let their inhibitions go and explore freely. Dare to be unique and taking risks were highly encouraged and reminded, often followed by examples. Actively engaging in bi-weekly class critiques in addition to one-on-one meetings and social media platforms for furthering the dialogue were accessible to students. Establishing a close relationship and being involved in inquiries were essential in making personal connections in addition to valuing each student. Due to the demanding rigor of this class, students start the year with summer work followed by several Zoom meetings. The highlights of the meetings were focused on training the eyes to see, engaging in critiques, and brainstorming for further possibilities of exploration. The approach and strategies for supporting inquiry-based Sustained investigation components are to encourage students to choose a topic of passion or curiosity where the depth of investigation can be explored further. During this process, heavy emphasis was placed on the thought process, idea development, final decision-making, technical refinements, problem-solving, and critical thinking. This was verbally articulated and visually supported during bi-weekly presentations in addition to recognizing and celebrating small to big milestones.
Being transparent and establishing clear expectations were enforced prior to summer work and reminded on the first day of school. It is believed to be one of the key components in finding success in addition to student accountability. Upholding accountability, integrity, and high standards were practiced and reminded throughout the year. A detailed syllabus was prepared and distributed on the first day of school, outlining goals, due dates, important deadlines, special guest presentations, and more. An overview of the entire year allowed for pre-planning and managing time. Taking more risks and expanding beyond the boundaries were heavily emphasized, as being stagnant does not promote growth. Embracing the discomfort of discovering the unknown was highly encouraged as unfolding and seeking began. Facilitating and guiding the creative process, challenging open-ended inquiry-driven journeys, allowing problem-solving and critical thinking components played critical roles in decision making, hence, practiced and applied regularly. Lastly, recognition and celebration of small successes built self-esteem, increased motivation, and a sense of pride in achievement, and this was applauded wholeheartedly.
Lauren Li​