written by Frank Juarez, publisher
On March 16th my professional life changed. Sheboygan North High teachers and staff were told that school was going to be closed the day after until April 4th according to Governor Evers. For those of you that may not know, I am a high school art teacher of nineteen years. Now, they are closed until April 24th and there may be a good chance it will be longer.
With only one day of preparing curriculum for online learning we were faced with uncertainty, stress, and frustration. It is easy to focus on the things that we will not have access to (in the short-term, I hope) such as materials, tools, space, Internet, and so on. Going from a traditional art room where there is daily support from teachers to students finding a quiet place at their homes to create and to communicate online is quite the change. The same occurs for us, artists. How do we continue to maintain our relationships with others when we will not be able to visit studios, galleries, art museums, and so on.
The reality is that there are resources out there than can temporarily suit those needs and implemented with a bit of creativity, persistence, and trial-n-error.
So. what does this ‘new norm’ look like for art education and for art sakes? Well, this is an opportunity to continue to engage students with ways to expose them to the world around them. Since March 16th, a lot of postponed and canceled exhibitions, receptions, and events flooded my inbox whilst schools, institutions, galleries, arts center, and art museums began to close until further notice. My question is if these places are closing, what are they doing to continue to engage their audience, artists, and collectors? As an art teacher, what can I learn from this applying it to my current situation and bringing it to my own art students?
This way of thinking has presented opportunities on how I can welcome them to a world that we are all participating in as artists and lifelong learners because as you know we are all in this together. One way to engage them is to introduce them to online resources like ‘viewing rooms’, augmented visual art exhibitions, ZOOM, Google Hangouts, and Google Classroom as our means of communication, education, and connection.
For the past week and half, I have been participating in various ZOOM online meetings as well as started to host my very own, Artdose Magazine Online Artist Talks. ZOOM is an online platform that I have been using for a while now, but never had the opportunity to fully understand its features until now. I find myself going from a newbie to an intermediate user in a matter of days and I am sure by the end of this pandemic, I will become proficient.
So what have I learned since March 16th? What I have learned is that I need to change my way of thinking. I need to continue to practice having a growth mindset. It is easy to get frustrated when you are trying something new, but taking a deep breath and refocusing does help. Knowing that we are all in this together does calm the nerves because we are all experiencing the same challenges and adjustments. Talking to others about how they are coping helps as well.
I was never a person who sits and waits. I have learned a long time ago in my career that if I want to make a change, then I have to take the ‘bull by its horns’.
I am thankful to have Artdose Magazine as a way to connect people, businesses, and artists. This has been my safety crutch in making the best of this situation for my students, for myself, and for others that need support and perhaps comfort. Some of the newest initiatives created in response to COVID-19 are The Art Heals Movement, which welcomes all artists to submit work to be shared via social media, Artdose Magazine Online Artist Talks, and Rising Amongst the Chaos: In the Time of the Coronavirus special online exhibition. Another thing that I find myself doing is to appreciating my immediate surroundings more and playing closer attention to what truly bring me joy.
Here are a few photos from around my neighborhood.