Art classes under COVID-19 safety regulations

Victoria Mcginty, Staff writer

With the fall semester finally underway, we cannot help but feel a sense of joy while roaming through the D’Angelo Performing Arts building hearing and seeing the arts revived. While this semester is anything but ordinary, that does not mean big plans aren’t in store from the art departments around campus.

Like all of the departments on campus, safety precautions and distanced learning are set in place to ensure students can study their craft while ensuring everyone is kept safe while doing so. In visual art classes, such as ceramics, students are provided individual kits with sup- plies and work at individual stations.

In past semesters, art students would be able to recycle pieces of clay. This term calls for one-time use only supplies. Assistant professor of Art, Jessica Stadmuller, comments that “while the biggest challenge is determining how students can effectively work and move throughout the studio, my biggest success was being able to spend the summer preparing and finally getting around to cleaning out the ceramic buckets – it felt like Christmas morning!” On the other hand, the department is proud to announce that the Cummings Art Gallery is planning to hold virtual student exhibitions online and update the display cases in Zurn regularly when it comes to art shows and galleries.

When it comes to the dance department, thankfully, not too much has changed. They are still in person when it comes to dance classes; however, the students take their classes either spread out on the D’Angelo stage, or split in half between the two studios in the DanceSpace with their professor going back and forth.

Due to this fact, things have stayed mostly consistent for the dancers, with the exception of a few extra outside criteria. Every student is required to wear a mask during class and rehearsals, with no exceptions. All of their belongings are placed in a washable bag to be contained within the studio, and they each have an assigned spot at the barre and in the center. Unfortunately, students are not allowed inside the DanceSpace except to enter the back studio.

Junior Dance Major Elizabeth “Libby” Bullinger said, “Coming back to school with the pandemic still at large has been overwhelming, but the dance department is handling the situation very well, so I feel confident and safe about going to class in the DanceSpace.”

Many know the Dance department for putting on spectacular productions; thankfully, that will not change this semester as the department plans to host a few showcases online.

Like the Dance department, the theater department and the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts and Culture (MIAC) also have big plans in store for this semester. With both departments under the direction of Dr. Brett Johnson, he has been working diligently to ensure an entertaining semester for all involved and interested.

Our very own theater department plans to put on two productions this semester. First, Oscar Wilde’s work “The Canterville Ghost” is set to be produced via zoom in mid-September. Second, the Mercyhurst Theatre department is hosting its annual production of “A Christmas Carol” in mid-November. Both productions are set to be virtual, with more details to be released and determined over the next few weeks.

Finally, as for the Music department of Mercyhurst University, there has been an array of changes facing students. First, the usage of practice rooms is by appointment only, whereas in the past music students were free to use the rooms at their leisure. Classes and ensemble practices now occur all across either the Walker Recital Hall or are spread out in the D’Angelo theater and other large spaces on the Mercyhurst campus.

Sophomore Music Therapy major Willow Lapp said, “getting to be a music student amid the pandemic is more of a challenge than usual – especially when it comes to practicing and learning; however, I am grateful to be back on campus even if it is not what I am used to.”

Overall, the pandemic has been stressful for many involved, but everyone, including the art departments at Mercyhurst, has all taken on these changes and precautions with grace. We are optimistic that things will one day get better. While this may not be a regular semester, the Mercyhurst community is excited for all of the events that are to be hosted throughout the fall, and we know that the staff and students’ dedication and talents are much revered.