GU professor Matt McCormick said despite Zoom classes “bumming” students out, he has been amazed by students’ resilience.

Professors and students in every department at Gonzaga have had to adapt and overcome challenges because of the changes the university has faced this semester due to COVID-19. These changes place unique and difficult challenges on art classes. 

The art department of GU offers many courses from drawing, ceramics and painting to photography, art appreciation and printmaking. Many of these classes require materials and a need for detailed demonstrations beyond that of other classes.

The professors as well as the students who were involved in art classes this semester have had to creatively overcome and adapt to all of the changes this semester.

 Similar to many other classes at GU, some art classes were split into several groups where different students would attend classes at different times. Professors also utilized online methods to give lectures and demonstrations that students could watch before class.

Tobe Harvey, one of the art professors at GU taught “Digital Art Foundations” this semester and offered his class as a remote hybrid option.

Harvey along with so many professors this semester has had to adapt to offering class online and in class simultaneously as well as becoming comfortable with both a camera and audience.

Harvey said that group collaborations assignments and group critiques over Zoom have been helpful in getting students to interact with each other, and said that his students have been fully participating in his classes.

 “Offering the ability to choose between going to the design studio and attending on Zoom allows flexibility to student life,” Harvey said. 

Harvey appreciates the amount of respect the students show the staff, facilities and instructors, and loves it when students ask questions. 

 Laura Truitt is also an art professor and teaches many painting classes as well as drawing classes. Truitt offered her classes in person this semester with pre-recorded lectures and demonstrations. 

Truitt said this semester has been a unique challenge for her, as she has to think of assignments for her students to complete at home  ahead of time.

“I have seen lots of growth in my student’s work, but the limited amount of time in the studio with them has made it more difficult for me to give quality feedback to them individually,” said Truitt.

 Truitt creatively learned how to use a GoPro for filming her drawing and painting demonstrations and utilized iPads for watching demonstrations in the studio. 

 “I think my demos are better pre-recorded,” Truitt said. “I spend more time on them since I’m not taking up class time and the students can watch a time lapse of a painting start to finish.” 

 Truitt said that although the pre-recorded lectures take a long time to create, that she will be able to use her pre-recorded lectures in future semesters, which is helpful.

 Truitt said that her classes have utilized Zoom and online learning in many positive ways this semester. Her classes have had speakers Zoom in and students have also had the opportunity to conduct Zoom interviews with community members to gather perspectives for their mural designs. 

“I have found that Zoom works nicely for teaching software,” said Matt McCormick, professor of integrated media and art. “Applications like Adobe Premiere, After Effects and Photoshop are pretty complex, but a student can share their screen with me and then I can walk them through the steps. It actually works really well.”

McCormick teaches filmmaking and photography classes at GU, which has been a unique challenge because they are collaborative by nature.

“It’s been a challenge shifting to projects that can be done individually and don’t break social distancing guidelines,” McCormick said.

Most professors plan to teach their art classes next semester similarly to how they were taught this semester, with many having students utilize online tools as well as meet in person.

Truitt thinks that students are doing well handling learning in a pandemic but that it has been a very tough semester and everyone is wearing a little thin.

“I can tell students are bummed by it all, but I’ve been amazed at their resilience and willingness to push through,” McCormick said.

Next semester, professors as well students in the Art Department at GU will need to continue in being creative and finding ways to overcome challenges brought on by COVID-19.

Although this semester has been challenging for art professors along with art students, those in the art department have continued to have the opportunity to learn, grow, and create wonderful artwork.


Sarah Van Liew is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @sarah_vanliew.

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