Artists on Coping: Rachel Klinghoffer

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

Detail of installation at The Skirt at Ortega y Gasset Projects, March 2020

By repurposing materials, making and remaking them into paintings and sculptures, Klinghoffer prompts a reimagining of uses for these relic-like objects. Articles reflect the artist’s personal connection to femininity, craft-making, Judaism, romance, pushing the definition of painting. Through time, the items become specimens, icons. They are poked, prodded, stained, sprayed, stroked, rubbed, dipped, then pulled, torn, cracked open and broken apart making up and becoming the new work. Rachel Klinghoffer lives and works in South Orange NJ. Recently she has exhibited at Morgan Lehman Gallery and The Skirt at Ortega y Gasset, with a review in The Brooklyn Rail.

AS: How are you coping?

RK: I am relying heavily on art right now. Consuming and making it in all shapes and forms has been calming. I am using my practice to give myself and my children focus. Each day we go through the alphabet listening and learning about artists that begin with that letter. I ask in my Instagram stories for artists that begin with that letter. This pushes me to learn about new artists as well as connect with other people. The connecting with other artists has been key. As this situation was playing out, mid march I started a marco polo group, Digital Crit Club. I invited artists to connect, see how they are coping and share work we are making, text we are interested in and son. There are now 50 artists connecting in that group.

Who am I to blow against the wind, 2020, 24 x 18 inches, Bra from collector that she wore on her honeymoon, balloon from daughters second birthday, balloon from daughters 3rd birthday, vintage Israeli postage stamp from friend, tissue paper from gift for son from bris from friend, plastic pearl from uncle, button from paternal grandmother, leftover house paint from neighbor, Swarovski crystals, flashe, golden acrylic mediums, montana spray paint, magic smooth, jacquard pearl ex pigment, wood panel

AS: Has your routine changed?

RK: Yes my routine has changed significantly. With no preschool or childcare for my three year old and one year old, I have had to become creative as well as forgiving with my time. As the situation evolves and it seems like we will be sheltering in place for a while, whatever that is, I know I need to maintain my studio practice for my own mental health if not for anything else. I fit solo studio time in when I can. There is plenty of art making going on with my kids along with exploring and playing in our yard. My routine has become hyper focused on home life, most of all everyone’s health, keeping my family moving, eating well, feeling as good as they can.

This is my three year old daughter working on our letter of the day project. This day was J. We looked at Joanne Greenbaum and Jessica Stockholder’s work then listened to Jimmy Cliff while painting on the kitchen floor, photo courtesy of the artist.

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

RK: I feel like I am in the ocean, like I’m sure many others do too. The seas are dark, choppy and waves keep crashing from all sides. There is so much information, yet things are so quiet. It’s an overwhelming storm that varies in degrees of intensity. I go from being dumbfounded, in awe that we are living this historical moment, blown away witnessing amazing acts of kindness, blessed, to being concerned to fearful. I have friends who are sick at different degrees and this is terrifying. I can’t let myself go down the wormhole. I’m trying to take charge of what I can, be a positive force in my own home as well as with the broader community and I feel strength in that.

Corner of my studio with some works in progress and a couple recently finished panels. The plants in the right corner are from a friend, originally from Lee Krasner. April 7, 2020, photo courtesy of the artist

AS: What matters most right now?

People matter most right now. I am focused on the people in my home and then secondly the people I can not be with, my extended family and friends. My number one goal is to keep my family and myself healthy physically and mentally. Connecting with people and making my work which directs back to people is important to me too.

Detail of installation at The Skirt at Ortega y Gasset Projects, March 2020.

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

RK: There is a road ahead and this will pass. It’s hard to see outside of our present where days feel like groundhog’s day. I’m focused on hour to hour, day to day, our friends who are sick to recover. I do know there will be a new normal. I want to think that the world will be better after this. Perhaps this global focus to fight this virus can, or I want to believe will produce kindness, creativity, innovation and connectivity.

The World was moving, she was right there, 2020, 8 x 10 inches, drink stir from paternal grandmother from 40’s NY club, fabric paint, acrylic, tissue paper from gift for daughter from friend, toggle from paternal grandmother, pin from maternal grandmother, buttons from paternal grandmother, Swarovski crystals, flashe, golden acrylic mediums, montana spray paint, magic smooth, wood panel.

All photos by Etienne Frossard unless otherwise indicated.

Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email:

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