Academy of Art University Students’ Creative Spirit Shines Amid COVID-19 Shelter In Place Order

The repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic are felt everywhere. Every day, news reports begin with the latest numbers of new cases, total cases, and deaths from the coronavirus in every location. Speculation about reopenings and returning to “normal” abound in news columns and talk shows. San Francisco and the Bay Area are no different, as residents have been under Shelter in Place orders from the Department of Public Health since March 16, 2020 (updated June 11, 2020).

But even in the middle of restrictions and uncertain circumstances, some have found inspiration and sought to pursue positive endeavors. Some students from the Academy of Art University have chosen to look beyond the negative aspects of the pandemic and its restrictive consequences to create new avenues of artistic expression.

Collaborative Fashion Magazines Featured in Industry Online Publication

Forced isolation can have any number of effects on individuals and families. The enforced camaraderie is hard on some while bringing some closer together. Those who live alone may feel the pressure particularly strong, and it helps to have numerous pursuits to keep the mind focused and busy. Although on-site classes were moved online earlier in the year and are now out for the summer, several Academy of Art University senior fashion styling students from the School of Fashion have continued to use their creativity to create their own fashion magazines.

These creations featured some of the fashion designs the students were inspired to manufacture due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting new aspects of life. In fact, the students’ creations were so impressive, they were picked up by and featured in notable fashion publication The Impression.

The magazine highlighted the fact that these students were pushing forward with their Academy fashion magazine project in spite of adverse circumstances. This truly collaborative effort called on students to use the skills they had acquired as well as the materials and resources on hand. This included some enlisting parents to take photos and handling many tasks themselves, including hairstyling, makeup, modeling, and graphic design.

An additional layer of complication was the various student locations, as the teams were spread all over the world, including San Francisco, North Carolina, Mexico, and even China. The students overcame these limitations in fine style to produce incredible displays of their innovation and creativity that can now be viewed online.

In an excerpt from The Impression, the editors wrote, “The Impression is honored to showcase these fresh creative problem-solvers who when times got tough, they rolled up their sleeves and got going. The future looks very bright indeed.”

Illustrations Inspired by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Recent M.F.A. graduate from Taiwan, Andy Chiang, created six bold illustrations that are particularly relevant to the pandemic. His Director’s Choice award-winning submissions included a poster depicting window washers wiping the smog from planet Earth’s surface, as well as an illustration of the recycling symbol bursting open, overflowing with plastic trash.

His inspiration stems from experiences in close surroundings while under shelter at home restrictions, as well as stories from his neighbors. Chiang also credits the “endless bad news” from the worldwide media as influencing his creations.

Perhaps his most notable illustration stemmed from how he and his roommates extended their dining table to better facilitate social distancing. The exercise and resulting experiences eating spread apart at the table reminded Chiang of the famous painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo DaVinci. His creation is clearly reminiscent of the well-known work of art, but instead portrays, “a lonely and alienated formal dinner” of patrons spread wide apart at a table after restaurants are allowed to reopen again.

Chiang wisely opined that in order to remain relevant, artists must adapt to changing situations. His newest work is a true depiction of that flexible mindset that does not stifle imagination and creativity.

Online Learning Challenges Students to Adapt

Perhaps some of the credit for how these and other Academy students skillfully and boldly adapted to the challenges around them stems from the shift to online learning in the last semester. Academy of Art University already boasted a vastly superior online learning program, ranked as one of the top online art and design programs in the world, and offering over 120 undergraduate and graduate degrees 100% online.

With the onset of a global pandemic that posed serious threats to health and safety, most states and even the federal government issued strict orders in efforts to contain the spread of the virus. These included closing many institutions where large gatherings of people routinely interact in close proximity. Schools and universities were among the first to close for the sake of student safety.

In order to allow students the opportunity to complete their studies for the semester, all on-campus classes were transferred to online status. This posed some challenges, mainly from the influx of a larger number of students into online classroom settings, and getting those new students acclimated to navigating the online learning platform and practices.

Thankfully, in pioneer efforts to develop online learning experiences to the same level of quality as on-campus learning, the Academy of Art University had already built the necessary infrastructure and support for excellent online learning. Among these resources are:

  • More than 900 online courses already available
  • Free subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud for every student
  • An extensive online library containing eBooks, full-text periodicals, images, and more
  • An online music library with resources for use in Academy projects
  • Step-by-step video tutorials and instructional videos on every subject
  • Video recordings of VIP guest speakers and archived guest lectures on a wide variety of topics

A recent article detailing an independent writer’s experience evaluating the Academy online learning experience described the diverse class curriculum as, “…a mix of recorded lectures, written content, recorded audio, interactive slideshows, assigned discussion topics, scheduled zoom conferences featuring live sessions with the instructor and the entire class, and hands-on work.”

The writer continues the description of the educational experience: “Students can also interact with others taking the same class through the class discussion board. Assignments, work samples, and subject matter can be shared and discussed between students and their instructor, and instructors can even mark up submitted work to allow a student to make and learn from corrections or suggestions.”

After making the necessary transition to all-online learning, students were able to complete their semester programs and even pursue other continuing projects. For example, the 2020 Spring Show showcases stunning work from a highly diverse group of students, spanning more than 75 creative disciplines, and is completely online for the first time. This extensive online addition of Academy Art U News provides many samples of work featured in the Spring Show from a number of creative degree programs.

Academy of Art University and the Future

Throughout its colored history, the Academy of Art University has remained on the crest of the wave for innovation and creativity. The privately owned and operated institution has benefitted from a family of creatives in leadership who value up-to-date industry knowledge, hands-on experiences, valuable industry partnerships, and pushing the envelope in creativity as well as educational opportunities.

Without such visionary leadership that prompted the opening of distance learning programs as early as 2002, the Academy’s current situation and future may have been in serious jeopardy. As it stands, the Academy is poised to enter the Fall Semester of 2020 with remote and virtual classes, open labs and workshops for studio course homework, and open residence halls and dorms.

Faculty, staff, and students are expected to commit to health and safety guidelines out of respect for the community. While on campus, students, employees, and visitors are expected to:

  • Wear face masks or coverings
  • Practice social distancing
  • Practice hand hygiene by frequently washing and sanitizing
  • Follow protocols for covering coughs and sneezes
  • Stay home if sick
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces

In addition, the Academy “will employ enhanced cleaning and sanitation, hygiene stations, plexiglass, signage, and various other measures to provide for physical distancing and other health and safety needs.” Updated information can be obtained by visiting the Academy’s Response to COVID-19 web page.

It is clear that Academy of Art University students are taking their cues from the bold leadership and high-quality instruction they have received while attending classes at the Academy. Creativity, innovation, adapting to challenges, and hard work have always been keys to success in any endeavor; and this is demonstrated over and over again by the resilient responses of many Academy students during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Prospective students can also take advantage of Online Open House and Education Webinar Events to get a feel for the educational and living experiences at the Academy of Art University. Interested parties can learn more or RSVP and reserve a spot by visiting the page linked above.

Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA has been shaping artists, thinkers, and leaders since 1929. Find your future by taking the first step today.