06/24/2020 1:09 pm
How does one teach studio art, sculpture or printmaking when traditional spaces and methods are removed from the equation? Rockford University’s art faculty and students transitioned their very visual work to a new method of learning when the pandemic began.
The easiest transition developed for art history courses as Dr. Jennifer Langworthy already had a course structure in place that fit within the University’s existing learning management platform, Canvas.”
Studio Art classes utilized a combination of approaches. Weekly assignments included reading, a sketchbook exercise, and a discussion to supplement ongoing projects. Discussion boards became the primary mode by which students shared and critiqued their work. In many ways, this format has advantages for students in that comments are archived, and they can go back and re-read helpful suggestions and interactions at any time to improve.
Students in painting courses used their own supplies or could use free painting applications and continue to apply painting principles digitally. Drawing students were less affected by a lack of materials (as pencils and paper are easy to come by). Still, they adjusted to alternative subject matter, working from their own photo references, assembling still-life arrangements at home, and using YouTube/ Vimeo channels devoted to life-drawing sessions in order to study the figure.
All classes utilized Zoom demos and photographic submission of assignments is essential.
Thanks to its already tech-centered nature, Graphic Design courses were able to make a comfortable move to the online environment. Without lab access, the biggest challenge for these courses was making software available, but solutions were quickly found and students continued to apply design theory to their projects and provide critical feedback to their peers.
3-D courses, like Professor Philip Soosloff’s sculpture class, approached assignments by showcasing contemporary, historically-relevant art such as Andy Goldsworthy or Sandy Skoglund. The work demonstrated an approach to creating sculpture that highlights a specific technique. Students found inspiration from everyday objects in their homes and continued to create compelling art.
Advanced students preparing for their Senior Seminar Exhibition were able to complete and photograph their individual pieces and design the exhibit “walls,” virtually using image compositing technology. Students completing their BFA will be allowed to return to school and host a physical exhibit when circumstances permit.
Both faculty and students rose to the occasion during this strange and difficult time. While everyone missed the face-to-face interaction so strongly associated with artmaking, together students and faculty found innovative solutions to continue the journey of learning and artmaking. Those efforts speak volumes about the dedication and creativity that drives all learning at Rockford University.
(Image 1) Student artwork by Laura Becerra. (Image 2) Student artwork by Elizabeth Kasyanyuk.
Student artwork by Changru Liu.
Student artwork by Ashley Nord.
Student artwork by Ashley Nord.
Student artwork by Fengshi Zhoa.
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