Professors Pivot, Create Virtual Showcase of Students’ Artwork

Dec. 29, 2020
Caitlin Sze ‘24
Assumption Laska art studio
Assumption University's art studio.

Though the pandemic has canceled campus events, the ingenuity of Assumption’s faculty in the Department of Art and Music has ensured that the (art) show will go on. In an effort to showcase students’ creativity, which traditionally occurs during the annual fall Student Art & Design Show on campus, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art and Design Lynn Simmons, MFA, has created a website to showcase the student art. 

“Our annual exhibition demonstrates the depth and breadth of our programs and puts the accomplishments of our students on display,” said Prof. Simmons. “The exhibition is normally held in the d’Alzon Library on campus, but this year, those interested in viewing the creativity of Assumption students may visit our online show to see works in painting, drawing, collage and assemblage, sculpture, photography, graphic design, typography, web design, and motion graphic design.”

According to Prof. Simmons, there are 18 courses represented on the Assumption University Art and Design Show website—16 from this fall and two from last spring—and an estimated 300 works are showcased. “This semester, our students were very engaged and focused on learning and creating, as evidenced by the strong work through the exhibit,” she shared. 

Though untraditional, Associate Professor of Art History and Department Chair Toby Norris, Ph.D., sees the virtual showcase as an opportunity to share the artistic talent of Assumption students with new audiences. “The pandemic is actually giving us an opportunity to reach a much wider audience than would be physically able to come to campus,” he said, adding that students featured in the show now have the ability to share their work with their extended family and friends by sharing the link. 

“Every fall finals week, I loved walking through the art show in the library,” said Hannah White ’21, a double graphic design and English: Communications and Media major from Tamuning, Guam, adding that it’s gratifying and validating to have the public admire one’s art.  “Seeing our work online is very much the same, except this time we get to share it with our families and communities from home more easily.” 

Offering classes in-person and virtually during the fall, faculty in the Department of Art & Music adapted to the public health situation by relying more on technology to deliver instruction.  

Prof. Simmons used Zoom breakout rooms to ensure her courses went smoothly and made herself available outside of class time to work one-on-one with students. “The biggest difference in my classes during the pandemic and the socio-political issues of our times is the opportunity to talk about what is happening and to bring those discussions and awareness throughout visual voices into the work,” she explained, adding that it gave her more opportunities to generate discussions about the roles that artists and designers have in society as communicators, and the responsibility that comes with those roles. 

“As this exhibit shows, students responded admirably and with fonts of imagination that maybe wouldn't have been tested without the obstacle of learning remotely,” said Associate Professor of Studio Art Carrie Nixon. 

White, who said Zoom studio sessions went better than expected, learned new skills and grew as a designer this semester. “In some ways, the conditions of the semester challenged me to think even more creatively when figuring out solutions to design problems,” she said. White acknowledged the hard work and dedication of her design professor, but missed the in-person community and teamwork of the design students. “My classmates and I did find ways to support each other through group chats and video calls, though.”

For Nick Sposato ‘22, a graphic design major from Shrewsbury, remote learning has helped him become more comfortable with collaborating virtually, and the online art show is something he considers a good thing.  “A good amount of the media and art that we access day to day is virtual and I think it’s important to be able to share our work that way,” he shared. 

The body of work presented in the online showcase is most impressive. To view the online fall 2020 Student Art & Design Online Show, visit here