With the university rushing to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, on-campus student activities and events were quickly suspended indefinitely. The Art department was one of the first to see one of their major events canceled.
As the university’s policies prohibited large gatherings of people, the traditional end of the year Senior Showcase was canceled. This showcase allowed seniors to present their work in the Brauer Museum of Art, show off their work to family and friends, and attend a formal reception. Students typically work on their showcase exhibit their entire senior year.
Andréa Kütemeier, a digital media arts major with minors in communication and business, has expressed her feelings about the situation.
“It has all just been super frustrating because we've all put so much time and research into our [senior] projects,” Kütemeier said.
Kütemeier went on to detail her own senior project, documenting chicken farmers in the Northwest Indiana region.
“I was just really curious about why someone would even raise chickens. I have a wide range of subjects and some of them use them for different purposes. So I was really trying to figure out why they were using them for what they were, and why they take so much pride in these animals and really put special care into all of them.” Kütemeier said. “So I went through and just took tons of images of them on film and then went into the darkroom and did all that. All those processes and created the prints from there.”
Currently, students are looking into alternative platforms in order to show their work, according to Kütemeier. Their plans involve making a website with the help of Valpo IT. To Kütemeier, this is “fine, but still not what we wanted.”
“For my show, I use large format film photography, so I did everything old school. And so not be able to present it with the images that I had printed in the darkroom and spent tons of time on--for me, it's just not as exciting to post them online because then it's just like I took them with a digital camera.” Kütemeier said. “People can't see from the computer how much time you’re putting into your work… So that part is just super frustrating. But we're dealing with it.”
Nina Tadic, a senior double major in computer science and entertainment industry visual studies, also commented on how some of the art classes have transitioned to the online format.
“I'm taking an independent study in printmaking… that’s been a weird one to switch over because most of the tools are on campus,” Tadic said. “So then we’re trying to figure out what we're going to do with DIY techniques we can try at home, and the history of the different types of printmaking and famous printmakers right now. We're trying to get our footing again because obviously we're halfway through the semester, but also we've only gotten through one or two projects because they take a long time.”
Another class Tadic is taking is an independent study in 4x5 photography.
“So you use this camera that's like 100 years old. It takes a super long time and a lot of patience. But now that class is derailed because we can't use the darkroom so I can't develop anything I've taken. I can't print anything developed because all my stuff is at school.
Tadic is determined to keep working on her work, originally taking pictures of people she’s met through music, but now doing it over FaceTime to represent that it's during the quarantine. Tadic adds that instead of taking the photos on film, she’s taking them digitally and then editing them to have a film effect.
Although for the most part, she feels her classes are transitioning well enough, Tadic does mention one aspect of the classroom she misses.
“Critiquing each other's work is a big part of being an art student, like getting feedback from other people. And it's a lot harder to do that when you can't physically touch it and hold it and look at it. But since we're trying to like work with our digital situation, we're doing a lot,” Tadic said. “We're gonna have to like FaceTime or video chat once a week to go over each other's work.”
While Tadic wasn’t participating in the senior showcase, she did have a scheduled April show at Uptown Cafe that was postponed. “I thought, ‘Well, I'm not gonna put on a show that I've spent hundreds of dollars on for no one to be there.’ And also, I don't want to have a big reception and invite all my friends and family if there's a chance that everyone could get sick…. so we postponed it till September.”
On her fellow art students, Tadic said “I feel really bad for the girls who were in the senior show… they've worked on their projects all year. I know some of them have spent probably close to $1,000 like in materials.”
For other artists struggling to create right now, Tadic said “don't overstress yourself about making profound art, but make stuff that's fun or that you think is interesting... Who cares what you're making as long as it makes you happy?”