Art Seminar looked for creative solution to loss of showcase; went virtual


Senior Ashley Su works on her art seminar project from home.

The transition into distance learning has brought trial and error with Google Classroom assignments and student attempts to learn from home. While academically the transition is online and heavily screen dependant, what about the arts?
For senior art seminar, challenges have arisen in moving out of the classroom. US art teacher Mara Duvra approaches this move with openness.
“We’re asking the seniors to be thinking about personal practice, and to be working on individual projects that feel exciting and generative for them,” Duvra said. “We’re opening up the floor for them to work in new mediums to try out different things, we’re open to someone that’s in photography working on painting or someone that’s, you know, really gotten into cooking to maybe photograph what they’re cooking everyday, things like that.”
This transition has been difficult for the students as well.
“I think the hardest part is adapting and finding new ways to create art, especially since a lot of the materials I use are from the school or things that I would need to go buy, but I can’t,” senior Ashley Su said.
However this challenge has opened new doors for Su in her work.
“With the distance sort of pressing the pause button on the projects I was doing at school, I’ve actually found myself pursuing things I wouldn’t consider doing and things that I never had time for. And I think it’s great, since our teachers, as well, are very supportive of the ways we approach the class during distance learning,” Su said.
Duvra is trying to adapt to this new way of learning with creative solutions, one of which is inviting artists to talk with the students.
“We’re planning on… having studio visits over Google Meets Hangout, and I’m inviting local artists, but also artists that I just know, to talk to the students, that don’t live here and so wouldn’t necessarily be able to visit,” Duvra said. “It feels like a great way to supplement our conversations with them that feel like, ‘Oh look, this is something I’ve been working on for so long and now I get to get feedback from another artist, that’s working in a field similar to me or in a field that I would like to be working in.’”
Duvra also hopes that learning from home will help students develop skills that will help them in the future.
“Let’s say that you do work from home and you leave school and you end up going to a college that doesn’t have a robust art program, how do you continue making art, if that’s your interest? I feel like this is an opportunity for them to really think about, ‘okay, if I’m not making art for a specific [purpose], what does my art look like when it’s just for me?”
What has been especially difficult for Su is the cancellation of the school’s annual end-of-year showcase.
“The most disappointing thing about distance learning is not being able to have the final exhibition. The whole class consists of people who really care about art and we’ve all worked really hard on our personal projects all year and it’s really disappointing to not be able to show our work to the community,” Su said.
What the program will do in place of the showcase, Duvra is not yet sure.
“We’ve asked for [students’] proposals, and so far some ideas are: setting up their own artwork in their houses, and then we have our group talk and we can critique each other over Google meets, and then another idea is to create a website where they can all put their artwork and share it with the school.”
Going forward, Su has hopes for the future of the program this year, but also her personal work.
“I would really like for our projects to be able to reach the community through some sort of exhibition. We’ve been talking about having one online, but I think that not only takes away, but also changes the original meanings and intentions of the artist, and I don’t think that would be fair to us,” Su said. “But in all honesty, I’m not sure that would happen. For myself, I want this time and situation to be a part of my art not just an influence to it. I think of it like I’m documenting history through art, and I think that everyone in the class and I are already doing that in our own ways.”

Check out the senior art sem website here.