A New World

Carol Hsiung sketches life in lockdown in a New Jersey suburb.

Shifting Ground was an open call for visual reports about how the events of 2020 and 2021 reconfigured our relationship with both public and private space. Selected entries were posted on the League’s Instagram account.

Carol Hsiung documented her changing life as she began sheltering at home with her family during the pandemic.

She wrote:

My world changed on March 17th, 2020, when everyone started staying home because of COVID-19.

My house felt smaller with my husband and son at home 24/7 and all our stuff cluttering our rooms.

My neighborhood became my world, defined by my many daily dog walks. The streets, which are usually empty, filled up with families strolling together, riding their bikes, and walking their dogs. Neighbors talked with each other. It felt nostalgic, like the old days. The day I drew the first sketch was one of those perfect sunny days during the early pre-mask times when we could see smiles. I learned new things about my neighbors—like the woman with the amazing voice who, with her husband, was part of a band offering free concerts, which I encountered by chance on my dog walk. The neighborhood felt joyful. I never really appreciated it until this happened.

My virtual world expanded as well as I reunited with old classmates and connected with colleagues, family, and friends via Zoom. Zoom became a new “space.”

Although there have been positive changes, I still feel trapped in my new world. My phone has become my lifeline for news, information, and connection with people outside of my neighborhood. Our house feels like an island, with grocery and supply packages arriving at our doorstep. We isolate ourselves to be safe, but we feel isolated.

My world is the new normal. We feel like we are on pause as news around us continues. And every day, I sit at my same desk and experience the changing world from my computer.


Carol Hsiung

is an architect who works part-time at FXCollaborative. She lives in Millburn, New Jersey.