Online Art School Can Be Art School

Callista Payne –

            The shift into online learning led me down a road of massive confusion and uncertainty for spring semester.  As an arts student, I had already seen people from other universities circulating the hashtag “online art school is not art school” while we were still on spring break, which led me through an anxious period of wondering how I would complete my final projects for design, technical theatre, or performance based courses.  The cancellation of the School of Theatre’s main season left me missing my motivation, and the cancellation of the student theatre association shows left me without a passion project.  My 9 to 5 class schedule and 6 to 11 rehearsal schedule being replaced by a complete lack of structure forced me to reevaluate my “why” to figure out how I could make sure art school was where I needed and wanted to be.  Luckily, the anxiety of leaving what I loved the most reaffirmed my need to pursue the arts. 

As we began the online learning experience, I knew each of my professors was just as anxious, which somehow served as a comfort to me.  My performance class managed to create our final devised project (a type of theatre where a team collaborates to create something entirely new, and refines it into a performance) completely through Zoom.  The project showed me just how much privilege and situation affects academic processes.  One of my group partners was a double major in digital media, so he edited each of our zoom recordings together into an amazing ten minutes play built around zoom backgrounds, facetime calls, and screen recorded imessage conversations.  The nervousness I had felt before final performances while class was in person remained, but the experience provided me with growth that I doubt I would have been able to experience otherwise.  Each of my technical theatre courses adapted to provide us with the best education possible, shifting the spring semesters practicum sewing and painting assignments into lighting software education.  Online resources for design and renderings were available to all of us, and online thrift stores became costume shops for each of our plays.  All of my theatre classes took a similar approach, and although it was different than what I expected and I was continually frustrated, I think I can confidently say that #onlineartschoolcanbeartschool, but only if you are willing to put in the effort to make it so.

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