MONTREAL -- Marc-Andre Pijet was sent home from school with the rest of his Grade 3 class at Levis-Sauve Primary School in the Montreal suburb of Verdun after the COVID-19 outbreak made going to school with his friends potentially dangerous as the virus's spread intensified.

The nine-year-old, however, did not waste his time playing video games or climbing the walls in boredom and annoying his parents, but rather started exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through art history.

“There was the coronavirus, and I said to myself, ‘Okay. There is COVID-19, and there is a person who is sick, and who puts the gloves (on), and protects themself from the COVID-19,’” said Marc-Andre.

Marc-Andre began by putting gloves and masks on God and Adam in the iconic Michelangelo painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He continued in this theme, producing around a dozen classic pieces of art infected with the pandemic in a variety of ways.

Marc-Andre Pijet

Marc-Andre’s father Andre teaches at Montreal’s Syn Studio and in the design department at the University of Montreal, and is accustomed to seeing artists express themselves.

Seeing what his young son was producing, however, impressed the artist.

“Marc-Andre’s always drawing and painting,” said Andre. “I am surprised at the way he is expressing himself. He has such excellent ideas, and I’m sometimes jealous that the ideas didn’t come to my head.”

Andre has always been fascinated by his son’s artistic vision, first exhibiting Marc-Andre’s work when the young artist was three.

Marc-Andre is observant and reflective always keen to watch other artists and try to interpret ideas in his own way.

“He does many things in my studio,” said Andre, who has a studio in Verdun. “Sometimes he goes with me to the school when I’m teaching, so he’s kind of observing this. I think what ignited his way of doing this was because I did a few sketches of the coronavirus and posted them on my Facebook, and he was watching me when I was doing this, when I was drawing this.”

Andre Pijet

Marc-Andre said he wanted to do something related to the pandemic, and began scouring the web for classic pieces of art.

“I tried to find some images that reminded me, ‘What could be in this painting?’” said Marc-Andre. “I took some images and tried to draw them, and after I tried more, I started to try to do more creations in my head.”

Marc-Andre Pijet's American Gothic

When his father saw what Marc-Andre had done, he was fascinated by how his son had examined the virus and expressed himself through art.

“I was shocked,” said Andre. “For a child like this to have the perception of how you can protect yourself from the coronavirus, and after came the other images… It’s extremely surprising what I was seeing… I wish I had this talent when I was nine years old.”