Curating the City: Art Classes During COVID-19

  • Prof. Rosenfeld leading virtual and in-person students through a tour of the Sean Kelly Gallery.
While courses within the Department of Art and Art History were conducted remotely throughout the Fall 2020 semester, faculty and students took advantage of public art spaces and exhibits around New York City as creative influences for their projects.

Curating the City

Supplemented by lessons taught online, students within the NYC Seminar Course Offerings, such as NYC 101: Curating the City, found inspiration from museums and historic sites around New York City.

MMC students posing with the Hans Anderson statue in Central Park. MMC students posing with the Hans Anderson statue in Central Park.MMC Art majors and Art History majors conducted independent research during the Fall 2020 semester for class presentations, visiting locations of public art in Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and more. One group of students visited JR: The Chronicles of New York City photography exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum to collect information for their project. Another student traveled to SoHo and interviewed street artists, collecting pictures and quotes to create a presentation. Others mimicked the work of Bill Cunningham, practicing photography skills while showcasing fashion in New York or their hometowns.

“One of the advantages is of the Virtual Classes/Open Campus model is that it allows us to innovate our courses,” says Hallie Cohen, MFA, Professor of Art and Director of MMC’s Hewitt Gallery. “Normally, we couldn’t have gotten to the Brooklyn Museum and back in time for the class, but now my students have more time and more access to NYC’s galleries and museums, letting us bring New York into the classroom and vice versa.”

MMC students creating artwork in Madison Square Park for the course Art 111: Drawing I. MMC students creating artwork in Madison Square Park for the course Art 111: Drawing I.MMC Art and Art History faculty members led in-person tours of public art settings while using the Zoom mobile app to transmit the tour to remote students as well. Jason Rosenfeld, Ph.D., Professor of Art History, guided students through the Shahzia Sikander show at Sean Kelly Gallery, using his phone to broadcast the artwork to students remaining at home. Prof. Cohen led her Art 111: Drawing I students on a tour of Madison Square Park, stopping at various spots to discuss the history and design of the sculptures, installations, and artwork embedded in the park.

“Drawing is not just about learning to draw, but it’s also about the experience of learning to see,” says Cohen.

In addition to public spaces, MMC has made studio art spaces available for students to create art and work on class projects on campus. These spaces can be reserved via the Astra Scheduler.


Learning From Home

Anticipating the needs of remote learners, the Department of Art and Art History shipped supplies and materials to students’ homes across the country.

Students in Art 115: Ceramics I, an introductory course to the ceramic medium that is reliant on studio supplies, were shipped special clay and equipment, making it possible to build three-dimensional artwork from home.

Melissa Braccia, Studio Art major, with ceramic artwork they made during remote classes at home. Melissa Braccia, Studio Art major, with ceramic artwork they made during remote classes at home.“Making ceramics independently in a virtual classroom would not have been possible without my professors and support from MMC,” says Melissa Braccia, a Studio Art major, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology minor, and Art Therapy minor. “The school mailed each student plenty of clay and carving and sculpting tools. Although we were not able to fire our pieces in the studio, making ceramics at home broadened my art practice and I am happy to have found a new medium I enjoy.”

Students taking Art 298.01: Printmaking as Activism, a course that explores the history of making art to advance revolutionary social causes, received supplies from local stores, allowing them to better observe the process and meaning of print mediums.

“We worked ahead of time before these classes started—we’re very dedicated to giving the best educational art experience to our students as possible in this remote time,” says Prof. Cohen. “It’s been a challenge for me and for my students, but we’ve adopted different methodologies to get through this, and we’re finding ways to be as creative and as inspiring as possible.”

This story is part of a larger series, MMC Together, published by Marymount Manhattan College’s Communications team. Have questions or a story lead? Email

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