With COVID-19 sending endless numbers of events to a grinding halt, San Jacinto College has been thrust into a state of careful but timely decisions and altered operations. The South Campus Gallery had to make one of those decisions regarding its annual student showcase.
"Each spring, we usually dedicate our gallery to a student showcase, allowing students not only in our art programs but all programs college-wide to submit pieces," said Bradly Brown, South Gallery curator. "There is a judging process, and prizes are given to first, second, and third place."
This year the showcase, like many other things, has been very different. When faced with the option to cancel the showcase completely or find an alternate way to continue, Brown and his colleagues decided to move the showcase online.
"There is a comfort that can be found in creating and experiencing art, and we are committed to facilitating that connection, even if it can't be done face-to-face at this time," Brown said. "We recognize that students may not have the materials they would ordinarily use at home right now, but we've encouraged them to be creative and utilize whatever they have access to, rethinking what is typically used to create art."
The announcement that the All Together Now student showcase would continue online sparked 70 submissions from dance, fine arts, and science majors as well as fine arts alumni.
"Moving the showcase online and moving forward is extremely inspiring and motivates the artists. As a community, we are together in this," said Ajith Nadar, fine arts student and showcase contributor. "I started my first semester right after Hurricane Harvey and ended my last class in the COVID-19 crisis. It has been a long and memorable journey."
Matthew Napoli, a 2017 San Jac graduate, was please to be included in the showcase.
"This project allows a large amount of young artists to be seen and heard in a short amount of time without competing for physical gallery space or organizing events to fill the gallery," said Napoli. "It's very democratic. Playing by COVID rules is definitely challenging, but I think as a temporary solution, online exhibitions are wonderful and may breathe some fresh air into the pre-COVID idea of how art galleries in general operate."
Students like Nadar and Napoli have found community in the continuation of the showcas — a goal Brown had from the beginning.
"The gallery plays a role for many students that in these uncertain times brings them together," Brown said. "By continuing the show, we are hoping to create a sense of community and connection when so many are feeling alone."