Mo Willems, the author of the famous children’s book series “Pigeon Presents,” was the original quoter of the phrase that practically became a proverb for artists in COVID-19 quarantine everywhere: “Science will get us out of this, but art will get us through this.”
Upon returning to campus with many unknowns, students involved in the college’s art department and program were some who had the most doubts that anything would be like it used to be. Among the changes, however, there remains pleasant surprises and the overall effectiveness of the program.
As artists find solace in their creations, art instructors are getting creative about how they teach.
Before COVID-19, students would gather in one of the workshops or classrooms with about 10 to 15 students. With everyone there, it was easy to view projects and offer critiques.
In lieu of COVID-19, everything has shifted.
Art classes have adapted a hybrid learning approach where not everyone is in the room at one time. Instead, half of the class is in the designated classroom space while the other half is in a different room attending class over Zoom.
This allows for social distancing and as close to an in-class learning experience as possible.
For critique days, the students split into two groups. One group attends and critiques in the first half of class. The other attends the second half to offer their opinions on projects.
“This is the biggest downside of COVID-19 because I feel like I do not know who half of my classmates are,” Camryn Cleveringa, a junior art major, said.
Another adjustment that has been made includes the Te Peske Gallery being converted into a classroom to accommodate the need for more distanced learning.
In the past, the Te Peske Gallery would showcase student works and pieces from professional artists, providing a free avenue to experience arts and culture in the community.
In spaces with set workstations, such as the ceramics lab, the stations have been spread out or marked to be unused in order to maintain distance.
Students taking art classes are encouraged to think creatively, not just about what kind of art they are making but also how and where they make it.
Ali Almail, a senior double major in art and cell biology, is taking this as an opportunity to explore new mediums.
“I generally enjoy very bulky and hard to work with media,” he said. “On the bright side, I get to learn new skills in my painting class while working on watercolor as opposed to my preferred medium of oil paint.”
The one thing that has remained constant in this time filled with uncertainty is the dedication of the department’s professors.
They have stayed committed to providing a safe space for students to work in, having disinfectants and other cleaning supplies in many parts of the building in order to encourage and keep cleanliness an ultimate priority.
Despite all of the changes, they have continued to strive to provide a productive work environment for students to continue to build on their talents and improve their craft.
“While the classroom experience has been greatly altered, our professors have been doing a great job keeping the atmosphere positive and easy to work in,” Faith Tyrrell, a sophomore Art major, said.