During the coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping.
Alexandra Rutsch Brock has exhibited in solo and group shows most recently at The Keck School at USC, CA, The Painting Center, NY, Village West Gallery, NJ and Misericordia University, PA. Her work has been featured in Studio Visit Magazine SV Vol44. Her recent co-curations include “HyperAccumulators” with Elizabeth Saperstein at Pelham Art Center, NY and “Among Friends” project with artists Patricia Fabricant and Beth Dary at the Clemente Center, NYC. She has been teaching art at New Rochelle High School since 1991, where she started the Visiting Artists Program with Scott Seaboldt, most recently hosting Susan Luss.
AS: How are you coping?
ARB: I teach Art at New Rochelle HS in Westchester County full time. Since March 11 I have had to do it remotely. I am trying to keep the students engaged, calm and have the artwork be a salvation, and not a stressor at this time. I love collaborating with other artists, and my exhibitions and curation the last two years had me working with wonderfully talented people. I am missing that the most.
AS: Has your routine changed?
ARB: Usually I teach Monday through Friday, 7am to 3pm, five different classes, 150 students a day. I am happily on feet all day with my hands in wet media like oil paint and clay. Now I am at my computer. Remote learning is an exhausting process. It takes hours daily to set up lessons, chat with the students, grade and share work, and converse with colleagues.
I am spending the rest of the day drawing, catching up with family and friends on the phone or text, and trying to go for long walks when the weather is good.
AS: Can you describe some of your feelings about all this?
ARB : Empathy is so important right now. Everyone is feeling upended over the loss of routine, as well as events that have been cancelled or postponed from my teen students to older friends. I am trying to stay busy at home and look towards the future. I am planning two large group shows in the fall with some other artists right now, and we are continuing the original plans, yet also dealing with the possibility of a virtual show and how to adapt to that.
AS: What matters most right now?
ARB : Staying home as much as possible. Daily talks with family and friends and maintaining contact with my students and colleagues. My husband and I have been catching up on the endless list of home repairs and ‘To Do’ lists. I also am updating my website. I am trying to make the most of it and not be idle. That being said, I have watched a lot of Netflix.
AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?
ARB: I hope that this can change things for humanity. It has further highlighted the inequality in our public systems such as education and health. History has shown us that big social programs emerge after global disasters. I hope this prompts people to take better care of one another. We all share the same planet.