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Emily Dierkes Rohrer

Visual Artist & High School Art Teacher

"It's brave to keep making in times of turmoil."

What are you currently working on?


Because I'm stuck at home with my 10-monthold daughter, Trixie, and teaching my students remotely, I had to shift my practice to what I can conceivably do in bouts of free time. I started digitally painting on Procreate on my classroom iPad that I'm grateful I brought home before the virus hit. I've essentially been learning through doing, and getting better as I practice painting brightly-colored portraits of Trix.

Has your art making shifted in response to the pandemic? How?

Yes! I've always made art to cope with my emotions, but now it's really necessary to keep my burgeoning anxiety at bay. I'm not necessarily making work inspired by the pandemic (yet), but am making work to cope with the cabin fever and channel my energy into something positive and beautiful.

What is the role that art can play in helping us confront our new reality?


Making and looking at art can be therapeutic. I think we all need some beauty right now. I'm so happy to see what others are making, whether it be art, craft, food, poetry. It's really inspiring to see how others are coping. It's brave to keep making in times of turmoil.


I might not be making virus-themed or inspired work right now, but I have a feeling it will seep into my work as time passes. My mother passed away in 2014 and it took a few years to digest the grief and respond to it. I feel like this is just the beginning of a really huge shift in the world and artists are going to respond accordingly. Will there still be an "art market?" Will our economy survive? I can't say (and I don't like to dwell too much or I'll have a panic attack!). I do know that people will always make art. 

Emily Dierkes Rohrer lives in Baltimore where she maintains a studio practice in Hampden. She has a BFA in painting and an MFA in interdisciplinary studio art. Emily works in a variety of media, namely gouache, oil, acrylic, fibers, sculpture, installation, and digital. See more of her work here.

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