Undergraduate Spring Show 2020
BY Audrey Deng, May 29, 2020
The spring 2020 end-of-semester show for undergraduates is now online. For students taking classes in drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and video, this show is usually an in-person celebration of what students have created over the past few months. This year, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the show was forced to adapt. On the site, viewers can explore a wealth of student work, available for a few weeks.
“Our end-of-semester show is always a celebration of learning and exploration and this year we are very grateful that we can do this with you online. Seeing the artistic vision of a new generation of artists is an inspiring privilege at this moment when we are all working to imagine our future.”
It was undoubtedly inconvenient to leave behind campus resources for visual arts students; projects have gone unfinished, and many who were looking forward to sharing their work in a gallery, have been disappointed. Creating the studio environment without a studio presented a challenge for artists who were continuing to work on their pieces.
For senior Alyssa Gengos, who also has work in the Senior Thesis show, the move online presented both challenges and opportunities to her printmaking practice. She was unable to continue working with copper plates without the tools and materials necessary for etching and printing, and she missed the hands-on guidance from her advanced printmaking professors, Valerie Hammond and Craig Zammiello.
However, Gengos was able to set up a small linocut workshop in her mother’s apartment, and she made some prints that way. “If anything,” said Gengos, “I’ve learned adaptability and have developed skills in self-motivation and organization. The biggest challenge in making art remotely, in my experience, is creating structure for yourself. Without in-person critiques or studio visits, it required a lot more trial and error and thoughtful decision making on my part.”
Fellow printmaking classmate and Columbia College junior Henry Adeson remarked on the differences and similarities between the online undergraduate show and the in-person show. “The undergraduate show is usually staged in Columbia's Prentis Hall, for one night only. It is definitely a challenging building for an exhibition of so much work and the show is mostly set up in its network of narrow hallways—making for a very awkward viewing experience...Though the Prentis exhibition has its challenges it has always been exhilarating to show up more than tipsy and enjoy the sensory overload of friends and art packed into tight quarters. Works are chosen by professors from your production over the semester—no matter what level of commitment you have to the Visual Arts department your work will be featured. Because students work closely with professors in studio classes the choice is usually what you both agree to be your best stuff.”
Adeson added, “The online show felt like the vernissage rather than the real thing.”
Junior Heloise Garry who took Professor Shelly Silver’s Video I course this semester comments on the difficulties of videography during the campus closure. “Due to COVID,” said Garry, “students in my class had to shoot their final project (and sometimes even their documentary) during the lockdown. Shooting and making videos during this particular time was technically challenging because we didn't have access to equipment. On the other hand, I think making videos under those technical/geographical constraints really triggered creativity and everyone in my class successfully took up this challenge.”
Though students found themselves limited, the online show celebrates the accomplishments of this semester’s artists who present a variety of arts spanning across many different mediums. “It validates whatever efforts we were able to put into our work during this chaotic time,” Gengos said, “I really enjoyed seeing the work my peers made, as it provided some sense of comfort and normalcy.”
The show is available online until June 15.