Guest post contributed by Dr. Shoshanah Findling, Graduate School of Education.
Building off the success of our school-wide faculty art show called “Art After Dark”, I saw the need to keep the momentum going. But how do you do that during a worldwide pandemic? We had to get creative (pun fully intended) regarding how to keep art alive. Although we could not gather in person to curate or gather for a live artist reception, it did not mean that people didn’t want to. We were determined to try.
Covid-19 had us scrambling for ways to engage our students. As a self-trained artist, I know that artists have a need for solitude and reflection to make uncover the meaning that will translate into their art. But we also crave social interactions with fellow creative souls for validation and inspiration. Artists will seek a tribe where they can discuss themes, mediums, techniques and “play off each other”. When I need a spark of inspiration, I can turn to my art league for all this. During the pandemic they could not have live meetings. They made use of Zoom and PowerPoint presentations to have virtual shows. Here at Touro, we were doing this for our courses. I knew I could make this work. What did I have to lose?
I always say “when you make a wish, the universe will conspire to help you”. I made a passing comment to a colleague about the need to deal with all the uncertainty surrounding Covid with a new art show. Annecy Baez, of the Graduate School of Social Work suggested an Art Museum Gallery template she used to enter a different show. All I had to do was keep the format and give credit to the designer. I also had an amazing group of school counseling students in the Graduate School of Education that semester who enjoyed art as a hobby. They wanted to participate and even offered to co-curate with me. Samantha Marinello, who holds a Masters degree in Art Therapy and attends the School Counseling program was a tremendous help. I also have to thank Inna Smirnova for her help promoting the two shows on Touro’s website. She discovered an unusual virtual gallery called Artsteps and designed another 3-D virtual art show with the images I sent her.
The first faculty-student virtual art show was held from November, 2020-January, 2021. The show was called Covid Creations: The Art of Uncertainty. We also held a virtual workshop to design Mandalas on glass bottles. In spring of 2021, flowers were not the only things to come out of dark. In some ways we all bunkered down into our own cocoons. When the Covid vaccine was approved for emergency use, we too could have a sense of hope and renewal. Looking for signs of change and hope inspired me to create a second virtual show. There is still time to see the second virtual art show which is titled “Hope Blooms”. When we reopen in September (with the Lord’s help) we will complete our indoor Garden of Hope as a green reminder of our shared experiences during the pandemic.
Everyone has their own coping mechanism. Mine has always been art. It is a way to make sense of what is happening to me and all around me. It can form community, draw people to a cause or bring their innermost dreams to life. Art has the power to transform lines, shapes, colors and patterns which adds beauty into the world.
The virtual art show, Hope Blooms, can be viewed here through 8/10/21.
-post contributed by Dr. Shoshanah Findling, Graduate School of Education