How Are You Teaching?
Recreating a Studio Experience Virtually
- ART2504 Life Drawing
- ART3104 Intermediate Drawing
Emma Kindall, an associated faculty member in the Department of Art, never imagined teaching her courses, Figure and Intermediate Drawing, in a format other than face-to-face and in a studio, given the physical element of instruction.
When she was asked to pivot in the middle of the spring 2020 semester, her students in Figure Drawing still had an extended final project to complete. Kindall immediately went to work on a way for her students to achieve learning outcomes without figure models. “We ended up using their own bodies, their co-inhabitant's bodies, and their screens as reference,” she said. The following are examples of prompts Kindall used throughout the semester:
Study 7: Make a drawing or drawings using your encounters on Zoom, FaceTime, or any communication screen as reference.
Study 8: Create two drawings using the prompts below:
- Draw a room you have been spending time in. Draw this space from life. Draw yourself using a mirror. Add your body to the room or next to the room.
- Draw a room you have been spending time in. Draw this space from life. Draw a cohabitant (roommate, family, friend, anyone who also lives in your space) from life. Add the body to the room or next to the room.
- Draw a room you have been spending time in. Draw this space from life. Draw someone from reference photo, maybe someone you wish was with you. Add the body to the room or next to the room.
Many students chose to make work related to quarantine, Kindall said, explaining that themes emerged from the re-envisioned assignments that reflected physical and social distancing.
Once a substitute for Figure Drawing models was found, the next challenge centered on how to critique one another’s work. Kindall used BuckeyeBox for the first time during the spring. “Now, I’m completely obsessed with BuckeyeBox,” she said. Students could deposit their work and share it effectively with the class. BuckeyeBox also integrates with the Carmen learning management system.
To recreate a face-to-face studio session, Kindall used small group meetings in CarmenZoom. Students met with her in groups of five or 10, depending on the task. She calls five students in a Zoom session the “sweet spot” when it comes to productive and supportive feedback. It contrasts with the world of individual feedback or full group critique.
“This was a major success,” Kindall said. While she might have had limited time to guide students working in the studio, they now had her full attention for the time they spent together in the small group. Teaching virtually has also allowed students into Kindall's own studio at home, as well as her own work.
Another success resulted from an assignment Kindall called the “studio newsletter.” Students were asked to document "their current artistic headspace," the small frustrations of working in a home studio, the challenges they were facing with a particular assignment, what they were learning, and what they were drafting or finalizing. These were shared with peers as a way of engaging in substantive conversation about creating art. Kindall purposefully left out detailed requirements for the newsletters. “I wanted it to feel like an outlet, not an obligation," she said.
She found students making connections across courses in these newsletters, writing honestly about their experiences in an atypical semester, and being transparent about the drawing process. For example:
Kindall said she experienced some glitches along the way. She emailed too much, for instance, and then shifted all announcements and communication to a specific location in Carmen. She plans to continue the studio newsletters in her courses, as well as use of Carmen and BuckeyeBox. “I can’t believe I never used it before,” she said of the latter.
Kindall recommends Foundations in Art: Theory and Education, an educational association dedicated to the promotion of excellence in the development and teaching of college-level foundation courses in both studio and art history, to colleagues. She also believes successful teaching depends on mentors and colleagues with whom to share ideas and approaches, faculty like Professor Laura Lisbon and Lecturer Deb Scott, both in the Department of Art.
Other examples from Kindall's studio newsletters: