By Ashley Wilkinson
Photo by Ashley Wilkinson
Due to COVID-19, the TJC Art Department has put plans on hold for the annual Arts Festival, Art Club events, the 2021 Bell Tower Arts Journal release banquet, and guest artists’ workshops and demonstrations. However, Art Club still plans on hosting its spring semester food drive in April.
“The biggest impact of COVID-19 on our art department is the loss of community,” department chair Derrick White said. “Before COVID-19, we had weekly art club meetings [on Wednesdays]. Our art lobby was almost always occupied with students and faculty visiting, watching films and videos, playing video games or collaborating on a project. Now, in an effort to keep everyone safe, it is like a ghost town.”
Almost all lecture art classes are being taught online. Studio art classes still meet face-to-face with limited seating but are combined with an online component. For example, some studio courses have split up access to the studio between their students.
“Teaching has been challenging,” White said. “Art faculty and art students are flexible and adaptable. There have been many creative solutions to delivering content and instruction from discovering useful internet links to faculty creating original demonstration videos. The biggest challenge is keeping students engaged in order to succeed.”
Only five students at a time are allowed in the art studio in order to maintain proper social distancing guidelines.
“I used to come here in high school and take classes,” Tyler freshman Serena Robles said. “Everything used to be more social. I’m not that social, so I think this is a little more calmed down for me. I don’t have that much anxiety. But it’s kind of hard painting for hours when you’re basically breathing the same air [in a mask].”
On campus, students, faculty and visitors are expected to wear a proper face covering (including a mask, bandana or neck gaiter) that covers the mouth, nose and chin in all public indoor spaces and outdoor spaces if social distancing guidelines cannot be maintained. Students were also required to complete COVID-19 training at the beginning of this semester.
In the event that a student tests positive or is exposed to COVID-19, they must contact Dean of Students, Dr. Tam Nannen.
“The effects of COVID are widespread and go beyond the health risks,” White said. “Students are dealing with an uncertain world right now with many extreme challenges. Many students in the art department are here for the therapeutic relief creating something brings.”
White says the art department will support its students throughout the uncertain times COVID-19 has brought.
“Our positive energy is still here and students realize this,” White said. “We all know things are unusual and weird right now. We are taking the proper precautions to the best of our ability to get through these hard times safely. The ways we learn to cope and strive in these punishing conditions will undoubtedly manifest in the content of the artwork we create.”