In the midst of a continuously developing coronavirus pandemic that has uprooted students worldwide from their daily routines, Loyola’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts (DFPA) decided to restrict students’ studio access and cancel or postpone programming scheduled for the semester.
The DFPA originally planned to allow only a few graduating seniors access to the sculpture and ceramics and advanced painting studios — located in the Ralph Arnold Gallery and Mundelein Center for Fine and Performing Arts, respectively — according to an email from Director of Fine Arts Rafael Vera obtained by The Phoenix.
But as of Wednesday, Vera told The Phoenix in an email, “we feel it is safest for our students, and the rest of our community, to stay home.”
DFPA announced all programming would be canceled — the Music Senior Recital and the Fine Arts Senior Exhibition were the only two exceptions. The senior exhibition was postponed Wednesday to a later date, possibly during the summer or early fall, according to Vera. The exhibition was originally scheduled at the Loyola University Museum of Art (820 Michigan Ave.) beginning April 16.
In the meantime, Vera said the department is working on setting up an online platform where students can exhibit their artwork.
Vera didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the status of the Music Senior Recital.
“Though the Fine Arts students and faculty are obviously frustrated and saddened by the disruption of face-to-face instruction and programing, as well as the use of studio spaces at Loyola University Chicago, we all understand these are very special circumstances,” Vera wrote.
Briana Bergeron, a senior studying drawing, painting and print-making at Loyola, said online classes are limiting, especially for a fine arts major. She said she almost wishes she could postpone graduating to take in-person classes later in the year.
“The reason that I studied art was that I liked the conversations that I was having in class with people,” Bergeron said. “That’s what the art department provides, a room for people to come together. Learning can’t happen by yourself on a laptop.”
As the tally of people hit with COVID-19 — the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus — increases daily, President Donald Trump advised against gatherings of more than 10 people. The two DFPA events that weren’t canceled at first were considered more “crowd-controllable,” according to an email obtained by The Phoenix from Betsy Odom and Kelli Evans, both fine arts professors at Loyola.
“Please, know that we are doing everything in our power to keep the Capstone Exhibition from being cancelled,” Vera wrote in an email to fine arts students March 13. “You, along with the rest of the graduating Seniors, are our first priority at this moment.”
While professors have been accommodating, Loyola senior Iqra Polani, who’s double majoring in visual communications and sculpture and ceramics, said working from home poses both spatial and motivational challenges.
“It’s really frustrating to not be able to work on these projects, especially like a capstone culmination project … and not be able to finish that how you wanted or exhibit it how you wanted,” the 22-year old said.
The decisions come after the university announced March 12 all face-to-face classes would be moved to online instruction, aiming to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While there are no confirmed cases of the virus on campus, Loyola was among universities nationwide to take action aimed at mitigating the spread of the virus.
“As we all know, there are several classes that will be especially challenging to teach online,” Vera wrote in an email to fine arts students March 13. “Let me assure you we are working diligently and creatively to make sure you continue to learn and make Art in the best possible manner, considering the circumstances.”
Students can pick up their artwork and materials until March 19 — the last day students have to move out from residence halls — but won’t be able to work in the studios.