Fine arts struggle amidst remote learning

Art teachers and students are challenged creatively, logistically with online classes


Jones students and teachers said they are striving to be creative and inspired despite the restrictions of a virtual environment.

Some teachers said online learning has forced them to be flexible with their teaching styles.

“It has made us focus on what’s important for the class,” said Lance Larsen, an Art 1 and Mixed Media teacher. “I’m using artists that are very resourceful or outsider artists who came from very unexpected or humble beginnings who use simple and accessible materials as examples in class.” 

This resourcefulness is needed for all art classes because not all students have access to needed materials. 

“A lot of the fun of art comes from the hands-on aspect and trying new materials, so it has been really stressful lacking the ability to easily get materials out,” said Digital Imaging teacher Suzanne Makol-Zamudio.

Some students said they are missing an important aspect of the fine arts curriculum without access to these essential resources.

“I was hoping for a class where I could experiment with different materials,” said Jackie Demille ‘23, who is taking Mixed Media. “I’m lucky enough that I paint a lot at home, so I have a fair amount of materials, but there are also some materials that I think would really help my art that I just don’t have access to, and the class is draining my personal supplies.”

Larson said that, while there is a lack of materials, there is not a lack of creativity among his students.

“The creativity the students have is always there. It’s just they are being inspired by other things right now,” said Larson. “They might draw inspiration from the outside world because they are thinking about the election or the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Students said they have been affected by the recent events taking place in the world and in their city.

“I recently did a project where I drew inspiration from the recent events surrounding police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Caroline Patterson ‘23. “With so many important events happening around us, it seems so important to express our feelings on these matters through art.”

Demille said her inspiration seems to be dulling since virtual learning started because she is confined to her room. For both students and teachers, the lack of a collaborative environment has really affected the class.

“The social aspect is just really missing. I care a lot about art, but I also want my students to have fun and get to know each other. We are trying to replicate that as much as possible, but it’s different,” Makol-Zamudio said. “You could make stuff in a bubble, but I think being around other people can motivate you, challenge you, and give you different perspectives.” 

Students said they benefit from learning and working alongside other students, something they feel is clearly lacking in this online reality.

“I miss the motivation from other students and the inspiration I got from them,” said Patterson. “I think a collaborative effort really helps develop a piece, which is missing during online school.” 

Though virtual art classes have presented many challenges, some students said they are open-minded about the realities of the situation.

“It’s hard to take a fine arts class or gym class and translate it into an online course because what you are getting from an art class is not something academic, but it’s expanding a different part of your mind,” Patterson said. “Virtual learning just doesn’t allow a fine arts class to function the way it normally would, but I do think it’s doing a good job because I feel very focused on art.”