This is a very wide-open research assignment, and it sounds like you have a lot of latitude here to tailor it toward your own interests. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.
If you'd like to focus on something contemporary, you might consider looking more specifically at some of the work coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many artists are making work that deals directly with their emotional experience over the past eighteen months. Some of this work is about isolation, some about fear, some about optimism, and some about hope. A research question to examine this further might be "How has the emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic been explored in contemporary art?"
If you'd like to explore something with a little more abstraction, you might consider exploring a topic from a different time in history. You could choose a significant event in and explore the art surrounding that time, or you could even explore how a specific invention influenced self-expression in the arts. Research questions for these approaches might be "How did World War I veterans use the arts to help process their grief and trauma?" or "How did the invention of photography impact the visual arts?"