Artists on Coping: Andra Samelson

During the coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping.

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“ Circling”, 30 x 30 inches Acrylic on Canvas 2018 Courtesy of the Artist

Andra Samelson is a multi-media artist whose work explores the relationship of microcosm and macrocosm with imagery associated with molecular and galactic systems. She holds a B.A. degree from Sarah Lawrence College and has received fellowships from the NY Foundation for the Arts, the Corporation of Yaddo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has been exhibited extensively in galleries and museums both nationally and internationally, and is represented in several private and public collections including the Rubin Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, Chase Manhattan Bank, Dow Jones, and the Loyola University Museum of Art.

AS: How are you coping?

Andra: I am following all the prescribed medical advice to remain healthy. I have been a student of Buddhism for many years so am making sure to continue and lengthen my practice during this time which has been a great comfort and refuge. Slowing down has been a welcome change from my habitual fast-paced busyness, and in face of all the fear and confusion and panic, has helped me find more patience and quiet.

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“Buddha”, Archival Pigment Print 11 x 14 inches 2020 Courtesy of ODETTA Gallery

AS: Has your routine changed?

Andra: I have spent more time than usual looking at the news everyday and speaking with friends and family. I am fortunate to have my studio in my home. However during this great “pause” I am taking a break from making artwork for many hours each day as is my custom, and instead am using this time to peruse the last 45 years of my work, something I have wanted to do for a long while. I have a great deal of inventory so this conversation with my earlier work has been very rewarding, and I am becoming more and more eager to begin new work.

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Studio View

AS: Can you describe some of your feelings about all this?

Andra: Ironically this time of isolation has been a wonderful opportunity to experience on a very visceral level how we are all connected and to honor that reality by increasing our kindness to others. I am very moved by how many people have reached out to me from everywhere. And I feel such deep respect and gratitude for the tireless work of nurses and doctors and all the service people who are helping to get food and medicine and other supplies to us day after day. We have time now to look more deeply into ourselves and of course into our society with all of its problems. I see how fragile everything is and how unprepared we were in the face of this pandemic.

On a personal level, I have had waves of deep anxiety and fear, particularly having contracted a cold with a sore throat a few days ago that has fortunately now subsided. This terrible viral assault on the world has given me a chance to intimately consider not only its global, political and economic repercussions but also the larger issues of impermanence, uncertainty and death which are always with us but so often covered up with our more mundane activities.


“Up in the Air”, 30 x 30 inches Acrylic on Canvas 2019 Courtesy of the Artist

AS: What matters most right now?

Andra: Of course we must take good care of our bodies with all the necessary precautions but also of utmost importance is to take care of our minds and stay calm. This will reduce stress that weakens our immune system and make us stronger and clearer to face the challenges we have now and in the future.

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“Starstruck I”, 22 x 28 inches 2018 Acrylic on Canvas Courtesy of ODETTA Gallery

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

Andra: I believe it is going to be a very long and difficult road ahead with complex and far-reaching consequences on every level. History will now be divided into pre-Corona Virus and post-Corona Virus. We will all be called upon to make changes and even endure unfamiliar hardships, and to learn to respect and live more in harmony with the elements and with each other. Hopefully we can emerge from this terrible crisis as wiser and more compassionate people.

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“Pemarom”, 8 ft. diameter 1300 CDs 2013, Courtesy of the Artist