Overcoming the Pandemic: Doing Art from Home with Gabby Schmitt ‘20
When a week long spring break back in March turned into a five month spring break, everyone was forced to adapt to a new world. Students had little time to pack up their things for an early move out. For seniors, their final year was cut short by a pandemic no one saw coming, missing out on a proper graduation, and even a chance to say goodbye to friends and professors. For art students, quarantine meant they would be missing their thesis art show in May. Studio Art and Geoscience double major with a minor in Art History was none other than Gabby Schmitt ’20, a senior who was set to have her art displayed in the art thesis exhibit, was deprived of that experience along with her classmates.
Gabby had to pack up all of her art and head home, leaving behind the tools and resources she would need to finish out the semester. “I got the email [about school closing] and I didn’t have my art supplies because it was right after spring break. I drove back to Carthage to collect what I needed, such as clay from my wheel throwing class, which was converted into a hand building class due to not having a wheel at home.”
Gabby created an art studio in the basement of her home, but not being at school presented many setbacks due to the lack of resources. This did not stop Gabby from making art from home, and her professors created new approaches so students could continue their studies. “For printmaking, since I didn’t have any presses, I had to learn a new technique called spoon printing. You use a spoon to press down hard on your linocuts. I missed having the presses, and the convenience of studio equipment, but it was a learning experience.”
The pandemic forced everyone into physical isolation and the only way to contact the world was through various video chatting and email platforms. When asked how she received instruction and feedback on her artwork from her professors, she said that it was difficult to show the art to them, but the professors were very understanding of the struggles students were facing. “It was tough because my art was 3D. Capturing photos of my projects proved to be challenging and didn’t give the full grasp of my artwork. Zoom was helpful in feedback, but it isn’t the same as an in person critique.”
Gabby participated in the Recent Alumni Exhibition that ran September 14th through the 25th. She was not able to install her artwork or see the exhibition in person due to the Gallery only being open to Carthage faculty, staff, and students, therefore she shipped all of her pieces to Carthage and explained to Professor Ryan Miller how her artwork was intended to be setup for the exhibition. Unfortunately one of her ceramic pieces was damaged on the way back to school, but her professors were able to fix it.
The pandemic has forced the whole world into a new environment, and we have all grown in our own way. Gabby is just one of countless students across the world who had to take on their final months of school in the presence of a nation-wide pandemic. Learning to overcome these challenges is simply something that cannot be taught in the classroom. “Not many people can say they’ve been through a pandemic their senior year, and still get to have their thesis Gallery show. This experience has taught me how to mentally prepare for my art. I guess–in a way–I am more confident, patient, and accepting.”