In a museum, the preparator is responsible for the physical installation of an exhibit. In the practicum class taught by the Clarence A. “Dave” Davis ’48 Visual Arts Curator Anna Wager, students who had practiced their preparator skills with exhibits featuring Amanda Maciuba, Sarita Zaleha and Areca Roe were scheduled to design and hang the spring student art exhibition when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Wager and her students quickly determined that a virtual exhibition was the best way to showcase student artwork. While going virtual wasn’t what anyone wanted or expected, as the class and the faculty of the Art and Architecture department rallied to create the online version, benefits began to emerge.
“While art exhibitions are typically finite, impermanent and only accessible to a certain audience, going virtual allowed us to showcase more art and to make it available to anyone, anywhere,” says Wager. “It’s also archived in a way that a physical show isn’t, allowing it to technically live forever.”
Instead of making layout decisions, learning to use power tools and visiting regional exhibitions, the class focused on reviewing digital art submissions, discussing website organization and taking virtual tours of online exhibitions.
Wager says that while hands-on skills are critical, digital competency is just as important. “Our students are going to be entering a world where some museum jobs are web-based,” she says. “Online exhibitions are a necessity to meet different access needs.”
Quinn Eighmey ’21 was part of the class that put together the exhibition. “Although we don’t get to see the wonderful interactions that we typically do at the student show, the best part about an online gallery is the ease of access,” he says. “People can simply click a link and scroll.”
To visit the student art exhibition, click here.
The image above shows a portion of Shift, a digital print by Shannon Smith ’20.