7 Ways UVA Student Artists Are Staying Creative During the Global Pandemic

May 27, 2020 By Payton Moledor, pm4ym@virginia.edu Payton Moledor, pm4ym@virginia.edu

During this unprecedented time in the University of Virginia’s history, many adjustments have had to be made.

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For many student artists, the last weeks of the spring semester are historically filled with final showcases, performances and the culminations of that year’s artistic work. But with the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling programming across the University, many student artists had to get creative to share their work as the spring semester wrapped up.

Here’s how some UVA student artists stayed inspired while creating from home.

The Virginia Players’ Creative Prompt Project

The Virginia Players, the student wing of UVA’s Department of Drama, launched a “creative prompt” project in March.

“To give some inspiration to create in this disorienting time, the Virginia Players have launched a weekly creative prompt project, open to anyone who would like to contribute their work,” said the organization’s president, Maille-Rose Smith, a rising fourth-year student majoring in drama and English and minoring in psychology.

Every week, student contributors are invited to create and share a piece of work with the group. The prompts are designed to inspire artists of all disciplines, and range anywhere from “Outside My Window” to “Trash-Inspired.”

“It’s a small way to spread positivity in art at a time when it can be difficult to feel motivated,” said Smith.

The organization also moved its spring mainstage production online at the end of April, launching “Watch Me,” the University’s first “Zoom play,” with the help of fourth-year student Andy Carluccio’s new Zoom modification. [You can read about Andy and his work with the Virginia Players here.]

New Media Student Films

Students enrolled in “Introduction to New Media II” created a showcase of short films related to COVID-19.

One of these films, titled “Mathematical Certainty,” explores the origins of COVID-19 as they relate to deforestation and habitat loss.

You can view the entire student showcase here.

Film-to-Radio Play

Isabella Ullman, a third-year arts administration major enrolled in UVA’s yearlong screenwriting course, used her pandemic-altered semester to transition her in-progress film to a podcast.

“One of the harder transitions was going from a project that’s so hands-on and in-person to something that can be turned in as an online presentation or product,” she said. “We had our shoot dates set for after spring break, so my professor suggested we do a radio drama.”

Through Zoom rehearsals and recording sessions, Ullman was able to translate her original vision to into a radio drama, which then was shared with her classmates.

Pandemic-Inspired Visual Art

Students in the Department of Art’s “Introduction to Studio Art” course used their time at home to create COVID-19-inspired pieces of visual art.

Swimming pool with long grass blades spell AWAY  in the water
This piece was created by Joy Li in conjunction with the University’s ARTS2000 course as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Contributed photo)

Online Artist-in-Residence

UVA’s Studio Art Department opened its first online exhibition, titled “Nick Cave: Spot On.”

The website is an extension of a live exhibition that opened in the Ruffin Gallery earlier this semester, and marks Cave’s tenure as the 2019-20 Distinguished Artist-in-Residence.

Blurry image of two people moving.  one is standing and one looks like they fell down
Nick Cave’s exhibition is now available online until August 8. (Contributed photo)

The video installation was in conjunction with a student workshop that Cave led before the pandemic.

“We designed a collaborative, lab-style workshop for an incredible group of disciplined, diverse artists, based on the prompt of ‘20/20’ read front to back, back to front or upside-down,” Cave said. “I can only imagine how these projects may have manifested if were still able to convene together.”

You can view the online exhibition here until Aug. 8.

Arts on the Hill: Digital Edition

Each week students, alumni and community members share their talents with UVA President Jim Ryan for “Arts on the Hill: Digital Edition.” A new episode is shared every Sunday on UVA’s and Ryan’s social media accounts, shining a light on the entire arts community during this trying time.

Arts on the Hill: Final Episode Celebrates Creativity in Uncertain Times

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