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APSU Art + Design students taking work online for senior exhibits

 The Watkins Virtual Gallery

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The student art gallery, like most of the Austin Peay State University campus, is empty. Usually, at this point in the semester, graduating Art + Design students use the space to host public exhibitions of their work, but this spring has been a bit unusual. In early March, the spread of COVID-19 caused all APSU classes to move fully online, effectively canceling the art exhibits for 10 APSU seniors enrolled in the department's Studio Art Capstone Thesis class.  

But the persistent young artists aren't letting a global pandemic stop their artistic careers. Beginning this Friday and continuing for the next three weeks, the students will host virtual exhibits every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

"Some are creating virtual 3D worlds, some simply websites and others Minecraft environments to get the word out about their APSU senior thesis," Paul Collins, professor of art, said. "I can't say enough how proud I am of these students changing gears in the final stretch of their Senior Spring. The process for developing thesis projects takes a year or more, so their flexibility and persistence is pretty remarkable."

All shows will be announced on the APSU Art + Design Instagram and Facebook pages. Each artist has picked a slightly different strategy - a website, virtual world, video collection, Minecraft site, digital flipbook - so each announcement will take the viewer to a new web address.

“Overall, it's been a struggle with uncertainty and confusion,” APSU student Faith Watkins said. “This definitely hindered our plans, but I'm grateful to have my supplies and the means to still make good work for my show at home. It’s saddening that we weren't able to put on the physical show we hoped, but the health and safety of the world is far more important. I'm grateful for the time I do have to focus on the rest of the execution for a good online gallery." 

 Faith and Hope Watkins

Faith and her twin sister, Hope Watkins, will open the virtual series with their show, "Same Difference," on Friday, April 10. Their work examines their experience as twins through paintings, video and sculpture. For their virtual show, they created a virtual, 3D world on artsteps.com.

On Monday, April 27, APSU senior Myles Johnson will present “After School Cartoons” - an animation project that recreates the channel-surfing experiences of his childhood. Johnson created a website to host his collection of videos.

“I mean, this whole thing has been rough,” Johnson said. “My main idea was to immerse the viewers in a living room environment to transport them to a time specific in my life when I would come home from school and watch cartoons. Now that my show will be online, that idea is so much harder to execute. I have to find some way to make a website that will do the same job the living room would have done. I have a positive outlook on this, though. Animation lends itself well to being in an online format, so I'm lucky in that regard."

The schedule for the spring senior art shows is below:

Follow the APSU Art + Design social media accounts for updates on the shows.


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