#Logistics in the time of COVID

Julie Chu

Type of Mask: Homemade “Origami 3D” Mask

Type of Mask:  Homemade “Origami 3D” Mask

I learned about this mask from: searching the web for free sewing patterns for DIY masks. After some trial and error with two other wonky designs, I found a downloadable pattern on See Kate Sew for “The Most Comfortable Face Mask,” which turned out to be true. 

I got this mask from: downloading a DIY sewing template (see above) and then ordering materials from Fabricworm.com (quilting cotton - breathable + good filtration according to my sewing maestro friend, Julie Cousin). Then I busted out my old Singer Heavy Duty 4223 machine (gifted by Ilene and Dave Harris via e-commerce) and tapped into rusty, rudimentary skills learned many summers ago from Chicago’s stupendous Lillstreet Art Center’s Textile Department.

My favorite feature of this mask is: the image of the three gender-ambiguous dancing figures in the middle because everyone needs a little whimsy in these strange times (and some of the neighborhood essential workers have given it a thumbs up!)

My most memorable encounter without my mask is: approaching the frozen aisle at an upper-middle class supermarket in mid-March 2020 - two days before the first shelter-in-place order went into effect in Chicago and before masks protocols were developed - and watching what had been an uncoordinated crowd of white people (also unmasked) suddenly part the way for me in one frantic cinematic swoop as if I was Charlton Heston’s Moses parting the Red Sea. I did a double take before realizing as the writer Charles Yu once noted, “Oh yeah...That’s how my face looks to [these people],” especially in the midst of rampant “China Virus” and “Kung Flu” headlines in the U.S. But it could have been a lot worse.

When I think of #Logistics during this pandemic, these three words come to mind: inequality, surveillance, Amazon.com.

Julie Chu, Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Chicago