As a distraction from working on my final draft of my thesis paper, I look out the window at the snow-covered ground. The sky is still light though the moon is clouded. The snow lazily falls, thickening the blanket of white covering the earth. I have a cup of aromatic herbal tea, freshly brewed, and the whole house is quiet. This is more than just the end of the fall semester. It is humbling to think about these past weeks.
One of the greatest honors I have is to be a teacher of record at Columbia. Last week was the last time my Drawing One class and I met together as a group. This week, I held individual meetings with my students to talk about their progress and so that I could ask them about their future goals. One downside of virtual teaching is that it leaves less opportunity for me as a teacher to engage individually with students and for the students to engage with each other. During my first semester teaching, my class and I were rarely in the classroom and instead traveled around campus and the city to draw and interact. It was also a lot easier for them to see the work of their peers—they could walk around or hold up their sketchbooks instead of having to take pictures to the best of their abilities, transfer them to their computers, and upload them online (and then download everyone else’s to look at them or wait until I make a presentation). It works, though! Our meetings went well, and I learned so much about my students and got feedback from them about teaching. They are truly amazing people (and artists), and I am genuinely going to miss each and every one of them—even though we have never met face-to-face.
In the MFA program, we are using the Fridays of the last two weeks of the semester to give presentations on the work that we have made. We are to prepare ten-minute videos to share. These are followed by thirty-minutes of feedback. In addition to the MFA graduate students, our faculty from our Studio and Critique classes as well as other faculty and employees from different departments of the college are present. We are also able to invite outside guests. It lasts all day and is reminiscent of the old all-day critiques that the MFA program used to run once a year.
I was in the first round of presentations this past week. It felt so good to be together with everyone, to see their artwork, and to share my own work. My work is radically different from the work I made last year, and the same is true for many of my cohorts. Earlier in the semester, we came together for a session of healing. This time, we came together in celebration of each other.
The vaccine is rolling out; the end of the pandemic is in sight. Next semester is my final semester, and my cohorts and I are preparing for our final thesis exhibition. Our commencement has been cancelled, and I wonder if we will all be together again in the same space. Right now, the snow continues to fall, and I need to shovel the driveway so that it isn’t so bad in the morning when my mom leaves for her doctor’s appointment. The best part about endings is that they eventually happen, so there’s no need to worry about them; It’s the meantime that matters. I’m going to make these last months at Columbia count.