Studio art classes are still adapting to COVID-19 changes a year later and it has brought challenges towards online art projects, flexibility and socializing for students and professors.

Art assignments need to be submitted online and class sizes have decreased. Although most classes are in-person again with flexible absence rules for sicknesses and COVID-19 symptoms, some of the virtual learning rules still apply to the art classes.

“If people can’t be there in-person, I assign them to draw a still life. I’ve had to adapt with sending photographs, telling them they can build their own still lifes at home,” said Matthew McHugh, who teaches beginning drawing and is a third year graduate student.

“As an instructor, how do I make sure my students are pushing themselves, learning, trying hard, and are putting a lot of time and effort into their class,” McHugh said. “At the same time, how do I be flexible with the fact that it’s just harder to put in time, effort and energy during something that causes a lot of isolation, depression and anxiety?”

“The most difficult thing about this is having to do an art class over Zoom,” said freshman Emma Jacobs, who is majoring in interior design. “We can’t do group activities, share critiques and socialize the way we want to. We all have to be separated and do critiques online.”

It’s hard to not get the advice you need from instructors, Jacobs said.

Social distancing has also caused less students to work in the classroom all at once, which has resulted in less class time for instructors and students.

“They only allow nine students at a time. That means my drawing classes, which are usually 18 students, have to be split into halves,” McHugh said.

“I can only see students for half as long, so that means I am kind of trying to cram material into a short time in class and then basically send them off to practice on their own,” McHugh said. “I only get to see each student 15 times per semester instead of 30.”

The lack of socializing for students has also had an impact on their enjoyment of classes.

“It’s harder to recognize emotions and have good conversations with people because there’s only five people in your class and not 20,” Jacobs said.

“Before we were allowed to do more hands-on activities, but now it’s harder to share things with other people because of COVID,” Jacobs said. “It’s a challenge because if you forget something then you can’t borrow anything from any of your classmates.”

This story was written as part of a student project for COM252: Writing for Mass Media, a class in the College of Liberal Arts.

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