This past spring, seniors in the School of Art and Design held their thesis exhibitions online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Traditionally, the Master of Fine Arts exhibitions and Bachelor of Fine Arts exhibitions are held on Alfred University’s campus and draw in a large crowd of art enthusiasts. When AU moved to online instruction for the remainder of the spring semester on March 16th, this meant no more large crowds in Alfred and no more in-person show openings. Art students were particularly challenged with creating and displaying work while distanced from their studio spaces.
“The shift to online senior shows was definitely rough to start,” said Sarah Busch, a 2020 BFA alumna who works in three-dimensional mediums. “It was learning to connect with my peers and professors in a different way.”
Seniors turned to their computers for the feedback they needed to wrap up their thesis. Artwork was finished to the best degree feasible and photographed for a website dedicated entirely to the thesis exhibitions. On the website, each artist had a page that displayed images of their work, descriptions of their pieces, and their artist statement.
“I had a lot more time dedicated to writing my thesis,” Sarah Busch said. “While we weren’t all together, I had a lot of peer support in finalizing the work.”
Other students felt as if their senior year should not come to an end online. BFA candidate Gillian D’Ambrosia opted to take a leave of absence for the spring semester after the switch to online instruction and is now back on campus completing her painting thesis this fall.
“For me personally, I felt like I had more work to do. I really value having an art community and felt as if I could not support my practice in a home setting excluded from other people,” Gillian said.
Online art classes were a challenge that students in the School of Art and Design never expected. However, the COVID-19 pandemic may have opened the art world up to new online exhibition opportunities.
“Honestly though, it was something I can’t say I would want to do again because I am not proficient when using computers and other programs,” Sarah said.
“I feel like they should bring the senior show website back even after Covid-19 because having an online gallery is nice for people who cannot see the shows in person,” Gillian said.
The 2020 Senior BFA Exhibitions can still be viewed at seniorshows.alfred.edu.
By Katie Alley