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Art Department gets creative with lockdown challenges

Valley Art Department perseveres through its online activities.

By Gene Wickham, Staff Writer

Since classes were unexpectedly forced online in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Valley College’s Art Department has had to adapt to the new reality and rethink the focus of their student’s needs.

The Art Department normally utilizes various social media platforms to promote their projects and train their students. The addition of distance learning through Zoom adds to their cyber toolbox. Gallery Director Jenene Nagy teaches several classes, adjusting to the opportunities of the internet.

“I am teaching Painting and 2D Design and a class called Gallery Techniques, which is a hands-on immersive class where students learn the nuts and bolts of running a gallery and working with artists,” Nagy said, exemplifying the diversity of the art programs.

Before the lockdown, the department had already planned activities on their website and Instagram page, exposing the students to a variety of social media and apps. The art curriculum encourages students to be creative, utilizing whatever is available.

“One thing I talk with all my students about in the classes I teach, is that a large part of being an artist is a willingness to be resourceful and responsive,” Nagy said, emphasizing the broad nature of art being more than traditional concepts and materials.

A couple of projects were in the works before the lockdown occurred. In the main gallery, a viewing of staff artwork entitled “XXMM” had been set up, but was unable to open due to the pandemic. The exhibit features the work of five full-time art faculty members: Carol Bishop, Jamison Carter, Phung Huynh, Jenene Nagy and Katie Queen, in celebration of the college's 70th anniversary.

Nagy discussed the continued support for the installed works in the main gallery. “We are currently working on an interview series with each of the artists in the [XXMM] exhibition that will be available as a downloadable pdf on the gallery website along with images of the artist's work and practice.”

Instagram is being utilized for a second project. Each student in the Gallery Techniques class is curating a virtual exhibition. They have developed a theme and selected a group of local and national artists who have been invited to participate in the project. The virtual exhibitions will each run one week on the LAVC Art Gallery Instagram starting May 11.

When asked about how the art students are adjusting to the distance learning, Nagy replied, “My students have been great at staying connected and engaged in each of my classes. I have not had a significant drop in enrollment or class participation. Everyone is doing their best and they seem excited to still be learning new things.”

For more information, check out the department’s Art Gallery page on the school website and their Facebook page.


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