Rachel Singel

Q: What was your initial concern during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: “My initial concern was how we were going to be able to maintain community. One of the things I value about printmaking is community. The semester is going to start in a few weeks, and I am still trying to figure out how to maintain social distancing.”

Q: You say in your statement that this experience has enabled you to create a series which you may not have otherwise been able to create, which is a very optimistic perspective of the last 4 months. How else has the pandemic affected your artmaking process? I know for many other artists, they have not been able to access their full studios during this time, especially students. How do you think this will affect future artists/ art students?

A: “This summer I was supposed to be doing a residency during South America — so it has been postponed until next summer. I proposed a way to do non-toxic printmaking there. Instead, I had the opportunity to go back to Virginia, where I grew up, to the farm that first inspired my art. I was able to take a lot of photos and drawings of the vines, fields, and the forest, and explore that area instead. My prints this summer ended up being mostly of fungi and ferns. So, my imagery alone was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. I know a couple of other artists, that were not able to travel. They also have had to negotiate the content of their work. As you noted, [we now have] limited access to studios, limited access to supplies. We are creative thinkers, but now we have to be even more creative. We have to be even more creative – not only with what we make our work about, but what we make it of. I think social media has really been beneficial in terms of individuals reaching out to help one another. I am seeing some really great collaborations coming out of this, such as artists not working in isolation as much. [sic]”

Q: I think the choice of intaglio for this series is very interesting and fitting. For Mussels, Stones, and Shells, the linework is abundant, bold, and seems to be a physical manifestation of white noise – alluding to the anxiety-inducing experience of COVID-19. The source of anxiety has been different for many people; for people living in lower socioeconomic portions of the United States, such as Portland and the West End, a major cause of anxiety has been finding resources, such as food, medicine, and paper products such as toilet paper. I would like to know more about your experience with finding resources. Which were the hardest to find and for how long? Are you still having trouble finding certain items? If so, which items?

A: “Because of the pandemic, things slowed down and had to be put on hold. [sic] The stores were just completely emptied of basic supplies. For example, soup! I could not find soup for the longest time. When a colleague of mine heard about this, they were kind enough to bring me a box of broth. [sic] I told them no, that I would be fine, but that [is an example of] people coming together in situations to help each other in these tough times. [sic] It is a hard time for everyone, but if we [stay] patient and take precautions, hopefully things will improve. [sic]

Q: The process of making art can either be an individual-oriented experience, or it can be group-oriented, such as the steamroll printmaking event you initiate annually. I am assuming this event has been cancelled for at least the 2020 year. How do you think COVID-19 has impacted and will continue to impact community-geared art?
A: “The event was scheduled for April 25th, 2021 – not this year. It is still on at this point in time. Hopefully it will continue to stay on. I am thankful for the Portland Museum for making this possible; hopefully we will be able to make it happen again since it was so successful the first time. We were able to get so many people together – the community, university, artists. In terms of community-geared art, I think [the] COVID-19 pandemic has created a sense of people coming to connect more via social media; not so much a physical community, but an online community – expanding the definition of community. [sic] The number of online groups on social media has really expanded in that people are finding ways to find each other and help each other so they can still work on their own and engage later on. Everyone is still making art, just in their own little bubbles.”