Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Fine Arts Academy: Virtual Style
As the assistant director for Wesleyan College's Center for the Arts Academy, I help to oversee summer camp for high school aged women who are interested in music, theatre, and art. When COVID19 turned education on its head late March, all of the camps were canceled. Our program's director, Dr. Gan, was unwilling to accept "no" for an answer, so we used all of the creative problem solving skills we learned in with our fine arts backgrounds and figured out how to host a successful camp with an online platform. Enrollment was down this year, so rather than break into specialized groups, everyone participated in everything: drama games, virtual choir, and drawing for example. I structured my Art History class to include the history of music and theatre happening during the same time and places as art history movements. We talked about the blurring of lines between medium for performance art pieces.
Students each made a promotional website for themselves with a headshot, bio, vita, artist statement, and examples of their work. Our evenings were filled with workshops: Jewelry Making, Costume Design, Polynesian Dance, African Dance, and Chinese Culture. The culminating event was a dance party. I had sent candy and microwave popcorn in their camp packets with art supplies and sheet music. Some students dressed up (one wore a prom gown) and some dressed down (pajama party). Dr. Gan wore a cocktail dress and her brother-in-law, who is a D.J., put all of the student requested together. We laughed and dance until midnight!
The amazing thing about doing things virtually, is that we could have teachers log on from far flung places such as Utah, Germany and Italy to teach. The money saved on the cost of food and dorm could be spent on personal attention: there was almost a one-to-one teacher-student ratio, which is unheard of at camps like these.
While I missed the photogenic nature of face-to-face experiences on site, I managed to get enough material from our virtual classes to make this video about our week. I hope you enjoy and share the name of the camp with any budding young artist in your life.