"This catalog is a record of the thesis work produced by the 2020 Studio Art majors. It is a first. In any ‘normal’ year, graduating majors would have mounted an exhibition of their work. In April, the hallways and galleries of Ruffin Hall would have been packed with their paintings, sculptures, photographs, and prints. In the downstairs Media Gallery, students would have projected their digital pieces, and the cinematography students would have screened their final films. Then the devastating coronavirus shut everything down, and the university moved classes to on-line platforms. The studios were closed. With only weeks to go, all exhibits were cancelled.
As faculty, our hearts went out to these dedicated artists. Most had been working toward the goal of the exhibition for two or more years. All saw the final, penultimate year of their college careers shift from engaged group studio practices surrounded by equally dedicated peers and teachers to cobbled together resources, no facilities, and Zoom critiques. Friends they had moved through classes with and saw in Ruffin Hall every day were suddenly gone, moved home, and struggling to keep momentum going in order to graduate. There are no words to express how disappointing this must be.
This catalog must stand in for what all of us, as a department and community, will miss: the opportunity to share the success and gratification of their creativity and commitment, to meet the families who supported and encouraged these artists, and to look these students in the eye and let them know how proud we are of them. We are so sad that these graduating Studio Art majors will not get to participate in these rituals of celebration."
Instead, we present their work here, not as they would have liked, but still visible for all to see. We are honored to have been their teachers and friends. It is our hope that this catalog helps each artist feel connected to their cohort and the faculty, and that they can recognize in their work what the artist Robert Rauschenberg meant when he said, “ The artist’s job is to be a witness to their time in history.”
Director of Studio Art