Art of the Zoom: 
Unmute yourself

June 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic created many challenges for artists and instructors. Normal classroom instruction was no longer possible. Two teachers, Zoe Cohen and Jenny Loughmiller, leaned into the challenge by creating classes taught through the new Zoom platform. This exhibition explores the art and processes created in each of these classes. The results go beyond the objects of art. These classes became community builders as well as the stability and support that was craved during this time.

 

We are honored to have this work exhibited at TDAC. Many of these women had not shown their work publicly until now. Through the uncertainty and confusion of this time, these artists took incredible risks to explore their creativity and to share the results with the community. Some of them had not met each other or seen each other's work in person before now. These classes also brought together students from across Oregon and even the United States. This became a sub-theme that illustrates the power of art to unify beyond geography and even social limits. 

Jenny Loughmiller
Instructor "Book of Revelations"

Prior to COVID, I wouldn’t have considered teaching art online. I LOVE to be in the room with students as they are playing with color and texture and form. It turns out a pandemic changes lots of things, including my opinion about online art instruction. I am now a believer in the way creativity can be enhanced using a virtual platform.

 

In the Book of Revelations, class members from around the United States gathered in our Zoom classroom and explored the intersection of art and the Divine, however, students defined it: God/Spirit/Universe/Spark/Muse/Inner Wisdom.  Using 14 different questions as prompts, class members painted their way through questions like “What do I need to know today?” and “What can I learn from fear?” Notes were taken about the answers and insights that came. The 14 paintings and their connected notes were then bound together into a book that chronicled the experience.

 

It was a liberating, deep, and often emotional journey that took place both together and in our own homes. That’s part of the surprising magic of virtual space — being in the community without physically being together. It enabled people who were separated by thousands of miles of physical distance but who shared similar interests to find a space to explore and learn together. Numerous students commented on how much they enjoyed creating “blind” — meaning no one but them could see what they were working on. This allowed a liberating amount of creative freedom. As both an artist and an instructor, I know first-hand the corrosive qualities of comparison. To give students the space for unfettered exploration — what more could I ask for?  

 

Jenny Loughmiller

May 2021

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ZOë Cohen Open Studio
Jenny Loughmiller Book of Revelations 
ZOë Cohen
Instructor "Open Studio"

In August of 2020, after much resistance, I was persuaded to teach workshops remotely on Zoom. To keep things simple, I ventured into this strange new virtual world by offering an 'Open Studio.'

 

I had originally designed these sessions for artists who had taken my abstract painting classes and found that back home alone in their studio they had trouble remembering all we did in class.  

 

The group that came to paint together on Zoom in the summer of 2020 formed a strong bond. It quickly became so much more than ‘a class.' We continued to meet weekly through all stages and changes of the pandemic, inspiring and encouraging each other to keep making art.

Abstract painting is another language, an alternate form of expression and communication. The components of this language are a few: line, form, color, and the relationship of these elements arranged on the canvas. My role as an instructor is to create an atmosphere of open exploration, collaboration, and trust. To foster the process.

 

In this type of abstract work, we do not start out with an idea of what the finished piece will look like. We start out with selected materials, lay a few things on the page, then respond to what lies before us. The painting becomes a guide, a map. The artist keeps adding and subtracting elements until she recognizes a sense of resolution — until the work before her feels complete.

 

These works reflect the historic moment in which they were made — together they form a collective visual record of living through COVID in 2020.

 

Zoë Cohen

May 2021

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