In an email on March 11, 2019, Richard Englert, President of Temple University, announced that the school would be going virtual due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The email states students in Temple housing need to evacuate as soon as possible, but no later than Saturday, March 21 at 5 p.m.
Caroline Stoughton, 21, a senior at Tyler, is one of thousands of Temple students left to figure out how to navigate this new challenge while finalizing her degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and entrepreneurial studies.
Excited about moving her art home, Stoughton thought this would be the perfect adjustment until she remembered her father is sensitive to the smell of oil paint.
Painting in oil and painting in acrylic are two completely different mediums, and you need proper ventilation that studios at the university provide.
“I thought, wow, I can just work from home but now I think how? It’s going to completely change my practice,” said Stoughton. “And yes, I’m still a student but it’s my last year so by now I figured out what I want my art to be. Having to work in acrylic instead, is going to push me backwards.”
Artists also often mix powder pigments to create their colors. If the powder particles get in the air and you don’t have proper ventilation it can be dangerous.
Temple University has a shared studio space for seniors with a 10 x 10 ft area per student.
“The area is still small but the ceilings are super high and Tyler has proper ventilation because that’s what it’s for so I can paint as big as I want, and I actually staple my canvas directly to the wall and I paint all around me,” said Stoughton. “Then I figure out what I want to do with it. Whether I want to keep it that big or if I want to cut it, but I can’t be stapling stuff to my wall and letting the oil paint possibly seep through.”
Painting outside is also not realistic every day, especially since it’s the season for rain.
Additional storage or spaces such as a garage is not possible because Stoughton’s family uses it to store paintings they have collected.
A reliable option is storage company U-Haul who are offering 30 days of free storage for college students during the coronavirus outbreak.
“I have a 6-foot-wide painting I need to get out by the 20th, and I signed up for the free storage, but do I really want to put my painting in storage,” explained Stoughton. “I would like it on my walls but we don’t have a space that’s 6ft wide 5 1/2 ft tall.”
Transporting the two paintings is another issue since these are the current projects Stoughton is working on.
“They’re both 4ft tall, and they’re probably still wet, so it’s probably going to get messed up,” said Stoughton.
Part of the education process is critiques where students have time to bring in their work and hang it up in a large room to share with the professor and classmates.
Critiques are forced to happen through digital video chat platform Zoom, which could distort the quality of her art.
“Experiencing something in the real and experiencing something digital like Instagram or my website is completely different than when you see it in person,” explained Stoughton. “And everyone is going to be judging you on how it comes across through technology. Especially with my colors, that’s not how I want it to be judged.”
Art students like Stoughton are worried that not being able to show their art in person will affect how professors view their work.
Another challenge is learning new editing software like Photoshop.
“I am not good at editing my photos, and some of my professors have been sending me different vocabulary for photo editing software’s that I have no idea how to begin using,”explained Stoughton. “And I’m going to have to learn that on top of finding a space to paint, painting and then showing it at the right time through Zoom.”
Stoughton also explained that professors are saying to persevere and that art is all about problem-solving and this will give you a prime example on how you’ll deal with that once you get out into the “real world”.
Students have also put money into the studio spaces as part of their tuition and won’t be able to get their money’s worth.
“One of my classes is a figure painting class and I don’t have access to models on my own, that is why I took that class before I graduated because I wanted to be able to have a model every single class, ” explained Stoughton. “That completely changes painting when you don’t have a live model, I’m not going to have that when we’re in our houses by ourselves so that’s out of the window.”
She would need to find someone who can sit for 15 minutes at a time without fidgeting, their back cramping up. She isn’t sure how her boyfriend or dad want to spend their time but she could ask them.
Moving classes online has forced Stoughton and students to find their own large easels which is an essential that the university provided. This leaves Stoughton and others to figure out solutions on their own.
Any student looking for an alternative way to store their finished art, Gathering Art Gallery and Boutique in downtown Doylestown, PA shares 2 floors of work from local artists.
Melanie Eyth is one of five members at the gallery and shared there’s a new room that they just acquired.
“The plan upstairs is to rent it out per wire,” shared Eyth. “I like full walls, I don’t even want to see empty space.”
Artists pay $35 for the wire a month and make full commission on the sale.
Gathering Art Gallery is located at 65A W. State St. Doylestown, PA 18901.
They are open Thursday through Saturday 12pm-6pm and Sunday 11am-5pm.