The senior art exhibit is a requirement for all graduating seniors majoring in art.
This year, the gallery was moved online due to COVID-19 which presented some changes to the exhibit.
In previous years, everything would be in person, the artists would give talks, there would be food, a reception and more. This year however, the gallery was completely online.
Despite the change, Gallery Director and art professor S. Portico Bowman was pleased with the gallery.
“…In the end, we did actually have a reception, so I said to everybody, ‘Hey, get dressed up, go get your crackers and cheese, and beverage of choice…’ but it was sort of like gather together your people that you’re already with and make it event at home, like make it feel special,” Bowman said. “…I got dressed up (and) I did the whole thing. Then at 7:00 Corgan got on… He took the rest of the night and did the Jamie and Dr. Smith intro, did the short teaser intro, and then took us through each of the event. We had I think 28 Zoom windows and so there were multiple people in those windows… I think we had a good turnout at the reception and then as it did turn out everybody was sort of interested in spending the whole night and watching all of the talks. We had done a run through, but I hadn’t seen them. I just trusted that if they were proud of them, I would be proud of them. So, for me it was seeing them for the first time too that night…”
According to Bowman, all of the big parts of the event were able to be recreated or added online.
“…I would say we managed to do all of the main components,” Bowman said. “…I was sort of concerned that that piece (artist talks) was going to get lost but then everybody was very on board with creating a 20-minute prerecorded talk…”
Senior art student Corgan Faller thought that particular change made it easier to do the artist talk.
“On top of it being moved online, we also got to pre-record our lectures rather than rehearse and present them live,” Faller said. “I think that gave the presenters a lot more freedom and made them feel more at ease.”
A lot changed in a very little amount of time regarding the exhibit but there was a couple of positives that came out of those changes according Sophia Stapleton, senior art student.
“…Typically, we have talks and the talks are in person but for this we recorded our talks instead,” Stapleton said. “So, that was definitely different. We have the reception where we saw the talks in a Zoom meeting instead of in person. But I think… (it was a) good thing because a lot of people who wouldn’t have been able to be there physically were able to come to the Zoom meeting.”
However, Brianna Cooks, senior art student, was disappointed with some of the changes but noted that doing it online was less challenging.
“… We did learn the whole process of how to hang up actual work and it sucks that we didn’t actually get to apply that,” Cooks said. “But online was easier and it still made everything happen.”
It was an “adjustment process” for senior art student Victoria Martinac.
“…It altered the process,” Martinac said. “It was a lot less… prep on our part physically. Like with a normal show we’d have to patch the… gallery, we’d have to frame our works, (and) we’d have to plan food…”
Stapleton says that they adjusted pretty well under the circumstances because of James Oliver, chair of the art department, who was considering online exhibits before the outbreak of COVID-19.
“…When we realized we wouldn’t be able to have a physical show we adapted to an online one pretty quickly,” Stapleton said. “…The art department chair had actually been curious about online exhibits for a while like I remember him bringing it up months before all of this happened. So, because of that we were able to make the transfer really quickly.”
Faller used this opportunity to explore new techniques.
“…They’re fairly recent work I’ve done in ink in some new styles I’ve experimented with,” Faller said. “As for what I did for the exhibit, I was the head of the design team. The others and I were tasked with designing the uniting aesthetic for the gallery between the poster (which I had designed) and website. That’s where the dreamy, cotton-candyish color-scheme came from.”
Faller’s work stood out to Bowman in the gallery as well as his teaser, artist talk, and overall presentation.
“Everybody had their sort of own unique flavor and really brought their personality to that and, in particular, Corgan Faller,” Bowman said. “…Not only his teaser, but his talk itself, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Stephen Colbert step aside, here comes Corgan Faller. He was really funny and really animated and he brought in all these special effects and he was working with the green screen… So, in the end I myself was pretty shy about hosting the online part… So, I actually thought… Corgan’s got this really unique… persona that’s just appeared and so I asked him if he would host the evening… He was just absolutely amazing. He created like awards so before you can do a tape there was an award that he had for the person and he had this super cool background again… He was very, very funny…”
The seniors all put in a lot of hard work and it was nice for it be recognized, according to Alvarado.
“…This was a really fun thing for us, and it was awesome to see so much attention be given to it,” Martinac said.
Faller was also happy that all of the hard work paid off and is proud of the students.
“I just want to say that I’m proud of our class and it was a privilege to exhibit with people who helped make it all happen against the odds,” Faller said.
While it was disappointing to not be able to have a physical exhibit, Alvarado thought this was the next best thing.
“I think it was a good alternative,” Alvarado said. “I’ve heard from other universities they just flat out cancelled it. So, I’m glad we at least got to have an online gallery that we can link to our families and we got to have our presentations prerecorded and put up… (on) YouTube so then again our families can view our lectures as well.”
Bowman was proud of the students for persevering through this project and all of the sudden changes to it.
“I think it felt like an event, like I think it felt specific and special the way that event is supposed to,” Bowman said. “It’s like the pinnacle capstone event for an art student… I myself was very satisfied with it… As Dr. Smith said, they were a very innovative group…”