From art class capacity decreasing in size to some courses going completely online, the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) art department has faced many changes during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  

The art department is following Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines such as ensuring all students participating in in-person classes wear a mask and maintain a 6-foot distance from one another. Students are expected to wear a face shield provided by the school when they walk around in a UNH studio. 

Communal art supplies need to be disinfected each time they are in use and hand sanitizer/disinfectant wipes are present in each room. 

Academic and student services assistant, Eileen Wong, said the art department during COVID-19 is extremely quiet. 

“About half of our classes are online and the other half in person. Most of our in-person classes are in the Service Building or upstairs in the PCAC and the students come in for their classes and immediately leave afterwards. It’s like a ghost town in the PCAC art wing,” said Wong. 

Wong said all of the history classes are online except for one and all sections of Photography and Intro to Drawing classes are online except for the honors section.  

“Our upper-level 2D classes are in person. Those enrollments are smaller so we can follow the 6-feet distancing by spreading the students into two adjoining rooms or teaching on a rotational basis,” she said. 

Wong said faculty teaching sculpture, ceramics, or woodworking didn’t have a choice but to teach in person.  

“They were very creative with finishing out last spring’s semester online, but a whole semester… it wouldn’t have been fair to the students to not have the hands-on experience,” said Wong. 

Wong is also head of the UNH art department’s work study program. 

“With our Dean’s approval, we’ve been able to have work study students but only in areas that have in person classes,” she said.  

Ceramics fellowship student, Luccas Booth, said he takes safety precautions during his work study hours in the studio.  

“I try to keep my distance from students when they’re in the studio while I’m working. Because I’m interacting with so many student’s work, it’s important I give myself the best chances of not catching COVID-19 so that I limit the chances of my spreading it to students in the ceramics class,” said Booth. 

UNH student, Julia Gomes, said her experience taking an Intro to Painting class during COVID-19 is “very odd.” 

“We do have access to the studio, but I find myself doing all my assignments at home anyways. We usually have class over zoom but sometimes our professor is in the building and can see us face-to-face,” continued Gomes. “I like the experience I’m having so far because it’s easy-going and I can do all the work on my own time, but sometimes I feel as if I’m not getting the full experiences and skills I would be if it was in person.”  

Previously, the UNH art department hosted Artist Talks, where professional artists visited the university and shared their craft with students. These lectures are now being conducted via Zoom, according to the UNH art department website.  

Visit https://cola.unh.edu/art-art-history for the art department’s calendar and updates on UNH art news.  

Photo Courtesy of Shawn Latulippe