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News

Carthage Fine Arts perseveres through pandemic

By River Finnegan ’22

January 19, 2021

Space-age bachelor manWhile 2020 brought an onslaught of obstacles that required sacrifice, perseverance, and collaboration, the Fine Arts Department at Carthage moved forward with a notable and impressive display of adaptation and dedication.

During the fall semester, the Fine Arts Department put on 38 events, which included nine music concerts, eight student music recitals, 18 theatre performances, and three art gallery exhibits, reaching 9,652 patrons, primarily online. The 386 students and 21 faculty members who make up the Fine Arts Department were determined to find new ways to perform as normally as possible.

Professor William Newcomb, technical director for all productions at Carthage, celebrates the Theatre Department’s ability to respond to new safety guidelines.

“The Theater Department has rallied together to think even more creatively during the pandemic,” said Prof. Newcomb. “We’ve found ways to distance performers, integrate masks into costumes, and reinforce sound and lighting in response to those safety features.”

Students performing in “Romeo &amp; Juliet Walk Into a Bar”Assistant Professor and Costumer Designer Kim Instenes worked closely with actors and students in order to make working on stage safe and as visually pleasing as possible.

“Our costume shop became a mask-making production line. We designed masks to coordinate with costumes and hoped that the audience would get used to the look,” said Prof. Instenes. “The actors also wore microphones to amplify the sound from behind the mask. It was not a perfect world, but we were able to safely present our productions with actors on stage, safely distanced and wearing masks.”

Jojin Van Winkle, artist and assistant professor of art, curated a gallery that utilized evolutionary technology to explore the role it plays when capturing and creating stories and media. The gallery featured three artists that used mixed media and technology that ranged from repurposed military equipment to 3D immersion to depict unique and compelling pieces about the meaning of storytelling and its role in community culture. The gallery was accessible virtually and in-person.

Opera balcony scenes performance“By engaging and connecting, especially when times are difficult, we learn not only to understand others and ourselves, but we learn new ways to live deeply in the now, no matter what that now is,” said Prof. Van Winkle. “I wanted to have a communal space for us to come together and reflect on living in the world before COVID-19, to have these exchange of experiences and ideas motivate us to continue to create during this pandemic and to hopefully have the conversations that inspire us to imagine new futures as makers, storytellers, and as conduits for change.”

The virtual event spanned over three days, in which guest artists highlighted in the gallery were invited to discuss and share their processes with Carthage students and faculty over Zoom and in the classroom.

Music students perform while wearing masks and social distancing.Music students learned to adapt to their new COVID-19 environment by holding practices outside, utilizing individual tents, staying distanced and masked while playing, and using protective coverings on their instruments. James Ripley, professor of music and director of instrumental music activities, says that despite the many obstacles, the efforts brought forth by students is what brought everything together.

“It was truly inspiring to see the collective energy and determination of our students who came together under some very challenging circumstances in performance,” said Prof. Ripley. “There’s something about coming together to share music that can overcome almost any hurdle.”