Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Art Students: How Are You Coping?

I talked on the phone yesterday to two art students at a prestigious art school about how they're doing during this isolation period. 

A visit to an 3 Kicks Studio several years ago
Here are some of the issues they're facing:

  • One was an incoming photography student working with old-school cameras, and she can't get into the darkroom.
  • Another was a senior about to present a thesis project, which consists of a room-size installation. That crucial graduation artwork can't be finished or presented.
  • Their school is shut for the rest of the term but it didn't shut down decisively. First they extended the spring break and then they did a hard shutdown. But that means that now they're not letting students into their art labs to get their tools, materials, and half-finished projects. 
  • Sculpture students can't bring their clay, marble, or welding supplies back to their apartments. 
  • Figure drawing students don't have access to a models, and the experience of painting from a three-dimensional subject can't be simulated.
  • There are so many technical problems with live conferencing. Most teachers aren't set up for audio and video, and they use several different apps, which gets confusing for the students. 
  • What's missing are all the subtle non-verbal signals that tell you what sort of critique to give someone, and the camaraderie that can't be conveyed through an internet connection.
  • The school is keeping all the tuition money, but they're just not set up as well as a dedicated online art school, which would cost only a fraction as much.  
  • Seniors were offered the chance to reconvene in the fall, but realistically most of them will have gone their separate ways.
  • What do you think will change permanently about art teaching after this coronavirus event?
  • Silver linings? They both said they're spending more time reading, contemplating, walking in the park, and exploring their imagination and their personal resources.
Art-students and teachers: I would love to hear in the comments how you're doing, and what challenges you're dealing with. If you want your story to be anonymous, just send me an email, and I'll post what you say without a name.


Chris Reisenbichler said...

It's been a big pain, I used to really rely on the studio spaces the school provided and now i can't simply do everything that I used to do there in my apartment. Spraying, painting with oils, etc. I'm cut off from the scanners and printers, which were pretty crucial. Certainly there are things I can do to adjust, but it's a lot of learning curve to fit in right now at the end of my last semester. I've been using it as an excuse to learn digital painting a little better, but I feel pretty forced into it.

James Gurney said...

A Professor of Art wrote to me: "
Thanks for your post this morning on the state of art students and studio art education relative to COVID-19. For my experience, and what I can gather from others in art education, it has been a struggle.
I have greatly scaled back what I am providing and what I expect of my students. But even with this reduced amount I am spending more time rethinking, revamping, and preparing content for my students than I do for in class instruction—despite being fairly technologically aware and capable. I recognize that I am not "teaching online", but merely trying to salvage what I can of my classes for my students. However, the effort still requires some semblance of online teaching skills and methods for which I am poorly equipped.
The challenges are most apparent with my graphic design classes. Even with Adobe providing free access to CC through the end of May, my students have such a wide range of computer access—some can easily download and run the apps, some can download them but only run one at a time, others computers are too old to run the apps, or have such poor internet connectivity that they cannot download them at all. For my graphic design students, this has caused me to try and conceive of projects that can be done with or without technology.
One silver lining is that even without access to presses other equipment and materials for my printmaking classes we are still learning. Together (apart) we are learning and exploring pochoir. Despite what little information I can find on the process, I am actually finding it an interesting and worthwhile technique that I will likely include into my class in the future.
Checking in with my students on Zoom makes me realize how much I miss being in the classroom and the collective energy that the shared studio environment brings."

MerylAnnB said...

OMG, James, so shocked to hear about Daniel Greene, I took workshops from both him and Robert Beverly Hale...I actually run an art school, (it's casual, most students just attended one class a week) Of course, I had been planning to create some online Zoom presentations, so I jumped into that (well, pushed, actually, but it's good thing!) It won't be the kind of drawing and painting that we do in class, but a valuable adjunct - I am putting together Keynote/Powerpoint presentation workshops on different artists, color, composition, etc., (originally I planned to mostly just include the artists in our direct lineage... but sadly, there are no women til the lineage gets to me, LOL. But then I discovered that there are plenty of female artists who are in branches in our artistic family tree (sorta like cousins, I guess, LOL!) including the Red Rose Girls (our common "ancestor" being Howard Pyle), and Georgia O'Keeffe (who studied with a couple of the teachers in our lineage, including Frank Reilly) so it has been very exciting research. These will be Zoom meetings so participants can interact with each other... The last time I put together art history slide shows was in the 1980s when we used actual photographic slides, which I purchased one by one (by writing letters to the museums that owned the works, whew!) I presented those for about 20 years til slide projectors became antiques! It's so much faster and easier this way, I got EIGHT one-hour presentations done last week (in my pajamas, LOL) I'm also planning to do a video on creating a modified Reilly palette...there is so much that we can find that is bad about the current situation (scary finances being the main one, for me) but there are so many good things to savor, I am enjoying more quiet time, more creative time - my 1600 sq ft studio is usually shared with classes but now I have it all to myself! And the air is cleaner and clearer...these are some of the things that will be good to retain out of this...stay well!

Kat Moody said...

My students and I have been locked out of our classroom, leaving all our common supplies unavailable. Luckily, most students have their own stuff which they can use at home. I had been thinking about them for the last few weeks, so yesterday I set up a Facebook group so the bunch of us could at least gather together and share our creations online. It's not as good as a one-on-one but I now have resources I didn't have before, so you can say all this is a mixed blessing. At least I can encourage them to pick up a brush or a pencil and create something to share.

CerverGirl said...

I’m not a teacher but some sketch groups are taking sessions online with clothed seated models. Good for portraits, and great community in the interim.

Pikagirl said...

My son can't paint in his off-campus lodgings (no ventilation in a 3rd-floor garret to mitigate the oils & acrylics). He came home a couple of weeks ago to do laundry (worried about the laundromat) and is using the time to explore watercolors and watercolor pens (I bought him a set of Tombows) here.

My students (I teach 5th grade) aren't getting art instruction, so I give them a daily drawing challenge using "Drawing with JJK" (they love the Star Wars Academy and Lunch Lady books), some wonderful help from Ralph Masiello, Marek Bennett's youtube channel (his visual diary is helping a lot of them process emotions during all this) and various science sites I can find. I did post your NBA sketchbook video for them since most are basketball fans and it helps now that they lost the end of their season.

I sometimes get tired of explaining to parents and administrators that they NEED drawing instruction in order to pursue STE(A)M careers. if they can't accurately represent what they are observing, they will end up being paper pushers, not innovators.

Roca said...

Not currently an art student but I did an online degree program at SCAD a few years back. It was a HUGE mistake and a waste of money. The classes were not on par with in person instruction. In some cases, I never had direct interaction with the teacher, but watched some videos, opened some documents, and then scanned and submitted my work. Student chat rooms were empty and there was very little participation in group critique, or at best the minimum required. Given the choice to do an online art degree or nothing, I would have chosen nothing. I learned a little, but less than I could have learned teaching myself on YouTube. I didn't get the benefit of making those in-person friendships or networking contacts either. It definitely wasn't worth the price of full tuition.

My son is currently taking online classes for middle school and he isn't having a good time of it either. If non-public schools move more classes online as a result of the quarantine, tuition should be heavily discounted from in-person instruction.

mrevent said...

The best comparison I can offer is someone who regularly works out at the gym saving to suddenly work out home. Even with the best equipment & a dedicated space, it just isn't the same. The differences include a loss of routine & schedule, lack of camaraderie, loss of personal instruction, lack of excitement, etc. In short, it just doesn't feel the same. Obviously, creating art is generally a solitary process. But many of those who are formally studying, at any level, whether university or community center, have lost. the sense of structure.that keeps them excited and grounded.

mrevent said...


Mer Almagro said...

I'm now going to school for ceramics, in Belgium. It's closed of course, and we got no chance to pick up our projects, tools and materials. Most of the students have no means to continue working on their projects. Unfi ished projects will now dry out in school. Our teacher is recording herself in her studio giving us WhatsApp classes over questions we have, or curriculum. We're unsure how this year is gonna go forward... and on what we're gonna be graded. Perhaps whatever was left unfinished, and projects and drawings we do at home. There is a possibility that we'll skip summer break if conditions improve.

I graduated on vitreous enamel 20 years ago. I've now set up a website for my enamel teacher, to help put up and share content for the current enamel students. I also donated to them some of my videos and online classes, since my teacher, in Barcelona where things are not good, cannot access her workshop to record and share. But these students have no access to an enamel kiln. There is no substitute for practice, and this will set them back...