“In these uncertain times, there remains at least one guarantee: Art does not stop in the face of adversity,” Director of Galleries Adam Justice has stated. While the College of Arts + Architecture galleries, like galleries all over the world, have been closed because of COVID-19, the CoA+A continues to celebrate art and artists, particularly the work of current and new students.
New in the CoA+A Virtual Gallery are five collections of diverse work – two shows from students in classes that were abruptly moved online in the spring, and three from students recently admitted to and/or entering UNC Charlotte this semester.
When Associate Professor Erik Waterkotte’s Print Media I class moved online, he quickly adjusted the syllabus.
“With COVID-19 rendering the emblematic art gallery moot, it was imperative that my students and I examine non-traditional and atypical formats for making and disseminating art,” he wrote in an introduction to the course’s final project, Correct Postage, A Mail Art Exchange from Quarantine. “In addition, I was aware of the anxiety my students felt and I was resolute that whatever we studied and made for class, it would have to be playful.”
Inspired by the 1960s art movement Fluxus, Waterkotte directed his students to study Event Scores, a form of artwork that proposes a challenge, written in just a few lines, to be completed creatively. Using Event Scores as a model, the Print Media 1 students then ended the semester with a mail art exchange project, Correct Postage, A Mail Art Exchange from Quarantine. Each student wrote short poetic prompts on the back of three postcards, which were then mailed to other students, who created a drawing, painting, or collage for the front of each card they received. The full collection of cards were gathered into a print-on-demand book, designed by art alumnus Hamilton Young Ward, with a limited run of 30 copies.
“I was compelled to create this publication based on this class’s efforts and their connection to the material,” Waterkotte wrote in the book’s introduction. “I am grateful to this group of students for being so open-minded and engaged despite the circumstances.”
Waterkotte and his colleague, Associate Professor Maja Godlewska, were similarly innovative with their Mixed-Media Painting/Print Media 3 class, which they co-teach. In an effort to “transform the obstacle of confinement into an opportunity,” they gave their students “a creative exercise in the spirit of Psychogeography,” to map their emotional space while the stay-at-home order restricted their movement. The result is Topography and Psychogeography in the Time of Stay at Home, a catalog raisonné of the 12 students’ investigations, musings, and creations. Like Correct Postage, it was designed by Ward, with a limited edition printing of 30 books by Heritage Printing and Graphics.
The other three exhibitions highlight works by three categories of new students, representing separate tiers of new growth for the Department of Art & Art History.
“We always applaud the perseverance of art!” Justice said about these presentations. “As our virtual rendition of the fall semester begins at UNC Charlotte, there is an opportunity to recognize new talent within the Department of Art & Art History.”
Primer 2020 showcases samples from submitted portfolios by incoming freshmen. Gradient 2020 features previous works by art majors who are transferring to UNC Charlotte this semester. Fresh Coat 2020 focuses on recent and ongoing projects created by existing UNC Charlotte students who were recently accepted into the Department as art majors.
“Despite our altered interactions, and a lack of the usual creative fervor inside Rowe Arts building at this time,” said Justice, “we can still revel in welcoming new talents into UNC Charlotte’s College of Arts + Architecture.”
Pictured above: “Graffiti Highway” by incoming freshman Katelynn McFarland.