East End Arts’ Kathleen Ruscick on Finding Joy in Spreading Positivity

Kathleen Ruscick, Photo: Courtesy Ruscick
Kathleen Ruscick, Photo: Courtesy Ruscick

Inspiration is all around us, even in the most stressful of times—you just have to be open to finding it. We asked our readers and people doing good work on the East End where they’re finding inspiration right now, and Kathleen Ruscick, Education Director of East End Arts, had a lot to say on the matter.

What has inspired me during these past few months? So many things. My surroundings. I have never been a real nature girl, and now I go for walks almost every day. I have discovered beautiful images every day and have captured them in photos. I also decompress after eight hours on the computer. While walking, I sing along to my music—it is pretty quiet on Shelter Island, so looking like a crazy person is okay.

The East End community. Participating in the Hero Program. When the pictures came flowing in from PBMC for our artists to work on, they, being mostly landscape artists, were not comfortable painting children. So instead of sending the pictures back for different “Happy Place” pictures, I decided to paint the three non-landscape paintings myself. Painting has always been a way for me to relax, so it was good for all involved. My biggest issue was the paint that I had ordered from Michaels was returned because of delivery changes, and Shelter Island works on PO Box numbers. They would not resend to a PO Box and would not overnight the package—I was doomed. My mom called around to her neighbors, and we got two volunteers to donate white acrylic paint, just in the nick of time. All three paintings were due the next week. I worked all weekend, finished all three and arranged drop-offs in Riverhead. The added bonus was that I could get my mom, who has an underlying health condition, out of the house for the car ride, her first outing in two months. She was so happy.

Working with Inspire Dance and moderating the biweekly talent show we do together. Watching these kids sing and play their hearts out just puts a smile on your face—watching me on Zoom, not so much.

Collaborating with Peconic Ballet and putting together a video to honor our essential workers. Still in the works, but once complete, this will be spread all over social media with as many essential workers as possible tagged. Five EEA singers and musicians will provide the music for five Peconic dancers to perform to. This is going to be a special piece: “What a Wonderful World” performed by Anika Griffing (vocals), “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Fallon Spellman (cello), “Hero” by Natalia Rahim (vocals), “Imagine” by Franklin Mastrangelo (piano and vocals) and “Rise Up” by Indira Roth (vocals).

Climbing through the Facebook Live process, streaming from Zoom and creating groups for open mics, then trying to guide others in the process. When did the over-50 person become the tech guide? Weird times. I know more than my 20-something sons.

My family, who calls every day. My older son, who is creating amazing new music, and my younger son, who’s painting stunning works on canvas—all at home.

My mother, who called all her fall semester students that participated in her creative writing after-school program to see how they were doing and to encourage them to write about their experience during this time. Also, watching my mom navigate Zoom to join in with her book club with other seniors—simply amazing.

My music teachers, for being superheroes in the transition to online music lessons.

My students, for following through with their lessons with no complaints.

My staff and management team, for keeping me calm.

My artists, for saying yes when it came to volunteering their time and art.

I actually have a program in the works: FINDING THE POSITIVE SIDE! East End Arts would like to share their experience with all of you in our East End Community. As they say, “We are all in this together.”

Send us small video clips (no more than one minute) and/or photos of your life at home during COVID-19. We want this to be a positive piece. Include all the wonderful things your family has done and discovered during this time at home together. Let’s turn lemons into lemonade—as Diane Burke, executive director of EEA, says—and if anyone can find the positives, it is her, after her battle with the virus. Show me your new creations, your Zoom family sessions, your discoveries on your walks, family game night, anything that says, “Hey, we got this.” I will put all the images and videos together and present the final movie to all of you in our community as a thank you for staying home. This is what community is all about.

Discover East End Arts’ enriching programming for adults and kids at eastendarts.org/school/overview.html.

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