When Rachel Arrington ’22 got the recent assignment to use readily available, naturally occurring objects to create an outdoor sculpture, she knew immediately the masterpiece she wanted to make would remind her of home—her Longwood home.
Arrington, a junior majoring in art education, used rocks and mulch to create a 4-by-5-foot Lancer logo in her yard. She posted a photo of her finished creation on Instagram and sent it to Professor Adam Paulek, who assigned the project for his Sculpture 1 class not long after classes moved to a fully online format due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“I also wanted to show the creativity and hard work our professors put into these classes to maintain productivity through learning online and to keep us working creatively as artists.”Rachel Arrington ’22 Tweet This
“I chose to recreate one of Longwood’s logos to show that, although I wasn’t physically there, the love for this school and its community stays with me while I’m staying at home,” Arrington said. “I also wanted to show the creativity and hard work our professors put into these classes to maintain productivity through learning online and to keep us working creatively as artists.”
Longwood faculty members had to quickly adjust some of their assignments and teaching methods due to the pandemic. Paulek’s sculpture course was exploring the ideas behind environmental art, studying the work of artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Long, Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson. He said one of the goals of the project was to get students outside to explore making art in a way that did not require a studio, tools or in-person collaboration.
I am proud and thankful to have such amazing art professors here at Longwood and would not be the artist I am without them.Rachel Arrington ’22 Tweet This
“I asked the students to create a series of compositions using natural objects like leaves, sticks, dirt and rocks,” Paulek said. “They were asked to document their work using a phone, and we held critiques online via the Zoom app. I displayed their work as a virtual background—superimposing it behind me in an attempt to have an organic conversation about their largely organic work.”
Paulek, associate professor of art ceramics and foundations, said that, while the online version of the sculpture course has been successful overall, it has given his students a new appreciation of the simple luxury of being together and talking about art.
Arrington said that while it is challenging in some ways not to have physical access to the art department’s resources on campus, Paulek and her other professors are continuing to encourage and push students’ creativity to new heights through virtual learning. She said thinking outside the box and getting creative with materials and resources will be a skill she can use when she becomes an art teacher.
“I am proud and thankful to have such amazing art professors here at Longwood and would not be the artist I am without them,” she said.
Other projects Arrington is working on include curating a mock art exhibition and creating earrings from materials found at home for her Introduction to Jewelry and Metalsmithing course. For Professor Kelly Nelson’s Social Justice in Print Media class Arrington is working on creating a persuasive PowerPoint and poster focused on a political or social justice issue that is important to her, with the goal of influencing the thinking of her classmates and society.
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