On the evening of March 11, the Art Students League announced that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school would close indefinitely. I was teaching my evening painting class when the word came down. We were all in shock; it was like all the air let out of a balloon. The students were revving up to do their best work in anticipation of our upcoming class exhibition.
Each year, new student work is exhibited in the Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery at the Art Students League. The concours is a century-old ritual. These exhibits allow the classes to celebrate their achievements of the rigorous work put in from the beginning of the season. They also provide time for reflection, close study and contemplation of the work, both of the individual artist and of the collective whole.
We have missed that customary Saturday gathering to sort, select, and arrange our drawings and paintings. The process of hanging an exhibition can be a lesson in itself. In the place of these onsite exhibitions, the League has moved the artwork to the digital arena in a series of virtual concours on LINEA. My three classes will be on view as part of Series 8, beginning on May 5.
I see in our present situation not only challenges but also new opportunities. In that spirit, I have decided to create a new gallery of student work on my website where I can present an expanded presentation of their work. I feel the pieces I’ve curated for this exhibit collectively represent the discipline, dedication, and diversity of creative expression of the students.