Creativity is Home
With the forced closure of public spaces and all of us practicing social distancing, artists are finding unique ways to adapt their craft. Each week we will share the ways in which UArts alumni are making the most of their time at home.
Times may be uncertain but creativity will always flourish.
Join the conversation and share your stories in the UArts Alumni Network.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org your stories!
Laura Zimmaro BFA ‘08 & MAT ‘09 (Visual Arts) teaches K-5 Art at Bret Harte Elementary in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Since instruction has moved online, Zimmaro shares a daily drawing prompt in her Google Classroom in order to inspire her students. So far, some prompts have included rainbow, dream, love, space, light, texture, and fun. Every night she posts some of the students' work on her art class Instagram @harteartclass to share. Feel free to follow and create along!
William Henry Felinski, M.DES ‘16 (Product Design) identifies as a hybrid designer/ antidisciplinary artist. The Philadelphia native founded and curates an artist-run space Olio Projects.
In response to the novel coronavirus, Felinski launched Distant Sounds: Collective Participatory Sound Artwork, an international open call through Olio Projects’ platform to bring artists together for a virtual exhibition. Using each entry, the platform generates a growing continuous ambient sound artwork
"Social distancing is a phrase we have learned quickly," Felinksi writes. "Our unity to use technology to bridge the distance between our physical presence, nonverbal language, and ideas is strong. Distant Sounds is about understanding what social distancing sounds like for you during the global COVID-19 pandemic. We want to know what 30 seconds of your day sounds like in your practice, during the health crisis.
"The project intends to provide a necessary break from screen-time visuals and cacophony of urgent news.”
The open call is for any artist or individual looking to engage in an experimental artwork at a distance. Entry guidelines are available on Olio Projects website.
Leon Syfrit BFA ‘13 (Photography) is a Las Vegas-based photographer and fine artist. Check out his series of photos inspired by the COVID-19 outbreak posted on the network feed.
Eric Bean Jr. BFA ‘07 (Dance Education) has been hosting a jazz dance class on his Instagram every Saturday at 3 p.m. EST (12 p.m. PST). Eric has danced with Koresh Dance Company, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, Brandywine Ballet, and Eleone Dance Theater to name a few credits. He has held faculty positions at University of the Arts, University of Nevada and ‘Dance Bermuda”; American Ballet Theatre’s only international program. He is currently on tour with Disney’s The Lion King. Follow along at @ebjdance.
Both of our featured alumni are based in Las Vegas, NV.
DO YOU HAVE A QUARANTINE BUDDY?
Audrey Simmons BFA ‘17 (Dance) teaches weekly ballroom classes over Zoom. Dancers of all levels and genders are encouraged to step onto the dance floor (which might also be your kitchen or living room.)
Sign up at www.audreybsimmons.com
Celeste Lanuza BFA ’11 (Dance and Musical Theater.) hosts a Movement Healing class on her Instagram on Tuesdays at 3 pm EST. Celeste is a multifaceted creative and performing artist who has performed in dance companies, musical theater, TV, Film, opera, plays, and music. Ms. Lanuza holds an MFA in Choreography from The University of California Irvine and has finished a year of Ph.D. Studies in Dance Theory from Texas Woman’s University. Ms. Lanuza has been featured in Dance Teacher Magazine for teaching and restaging modern repertoire. Follow her at @celestelanuzaofficial
LOOKING FOR NEW MUSIC?
Our students at UArts Radio curated a playlist of student and alumni artists on Spotify. Click here to listen.
If you’re a musician and want your music featured in future playlists, fill out this submission form. The playlist will be updated monthly.
GET IN THE GAME
Ryan Dunleavy BFA ‘02 (Film) created hand-drawn, computer colored maps for the story RPG Blades in the Dark. He was one of the original playtesters for the game, discussing and brainstorming the shape and scope of it with author and creator John Harper. https://www.patreon.com/ryandunleavy
Ryan’s tips for online business:
… Engage with the community in which your product/service/craft lives. Message boards, live streams, social media groups.
Timely communication is something I've found that my patrons really like. Replying within a reasonable span of time lets them know you are fully engaged and appreciate their support.
Not everything you produce or put out should be a paid service or item or exclusive to patrons, mailing, lists, backers, etc;. Including more people, even if they are not paying for something, will generate interest and a feel of inclusiveness.
MAKING THE MOST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Jessica Nora BFA ‘16 (Interdisciplinary Fine Arts) continues to make and sell her work through her website jessicanora.com. She’s sharing some of her best tips on utilizing social media to promote your business. Follow her @jessicanoraartist on Instagram too!
1. Have representation across social media, and link your accounts. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok or more, social media has had a huge effect on small businesses, bringing in-house marketing to a new level, even for us one-person businesses! Linking your sites makes working with them easier.
2. Don’t be afraid to use apps for help. There are a lot of apps out there that help with planning your posts, so you can have them queued up and have reminders of when to post. Personally, I like to use the app “Plann” for Instagram and Pages for Facebook. Apps, such as Pages, can also organize and make it easier to access messages, where your customers will most likely be contacting you.
3. Show who you are! People love seeing some personality, so don’t be afraid to share who you are! Pictures of you with the art, your studio, if you have any pets (everyone loves a studio pet!), and your process. Also, please note, there are so many options so you can find what is right for you! For example, I am uncomfortable with my in-progress works and being on video, so I set up process time-lapses where just my hands and canvas are in the shot. Then separately, I’ll post a picture of me and my studio dog, explaining a little about me and how I’m feeling at this time. That is my way of sharing myself and process.
4. The Hashtag game
- Hashtag everything. There are a few tricks to the hashtags, and one of them is volume. Hashtags can look silly, but they are often how your posts get shared with others if you don’t want to pay for an ad (which there is nothing wrong with! This ultimately is what gets you the most interaction).
- Create your own Hashtag. I recommended creating one hashtag that is yours. Make it something simple, such as #JessicaNoraArtist so it is easy for clients (and for you) to remember.
- Finding the right hashtags to use. You want to find a combination of a large audience, but not so large that your posts get lost. It is important to use some local hashtags, such as #BostonArtist. I also find that using some personal describers helps find people who may relate to your art, such as #disabledartists or #queerartists.
5. Tag art communities you are a part of. Getting communities you are a part of to share your work helps your audience spread. The best way to get them to share your work on their pages and stories is often simply to tag them in your photo or video! This makes sure they see your post and acknowledge that you are a part of their community. People are wanting to support small and local businesses at this time, so make sure you let them know where to find you!
6. Have fun. Be yourself, throw on your favorite music, and go live for improv painting or dancing (live videos do not have to be posted after! Even through social media, people can often tell if you are being genuine, so don’t be afraid to just be you!
YOUR NEXT TV BINGE
Andre Myers BFA ‘07 (Musical Theater) has created an original scripted web series called “Kalen in COVID,” about living alone during lockdown. New episodes debut every week. See the first episode here
We asked Andre what inspired this. Here’s what he had to say:
Honestly having this “stay at home” order, forced me to create. It was create or go crazy! I’m normally busy acting in television shows, movies, commercials/ print ads, and every now and then jumping on the road with a Broadway Tour. In my spare time, I enjoy writing scripts and cultivating new storylines. This “time off” offered me a chance to actually create and film my own content, and so far, it’s been nothing short of fulfilling. I created KALEN IN COVID to deal with our current state of emergency, but in a lighthearted way. Quarantining is real, isolation is hard, but it becomes a little bit easier when you can smile through it.
ISOLATED BUT TOGETHER
ideas//in//isolation is a collection of artists’ responses to COVID-19, created and curated by Catie Leasca BFA ‘17 (Dance). “My hope is that in gathering their offerings, paired with my own, something can provide a source of comfort, ignition, grounding, gratitude, or whatever it is you need at this time.”
ideas//in//isolation also features work by Chloe Marie BFA ‘17 (Dance), Indigo Sparks BFA ‘18 (Dance), Joanna Warren, and Ogemdi Ude.
DANCE AROUND THE WORLD
Britt Davis BFA ‘15 (Dance) & Whitney Casal BFA ‘15 (Dance) form the dance collaborative, OhOk Performance Group. They, along with 20 other dancers from across the world created an original piece, “Co-” or in their own words…
Co-created by 20 dancers, a
Collection of artistic
Comrades from around the world during the
Commonalities bring us together, many as
Combating the un-
Conventional quarantine life by sharing
Cool moves and grooves in the
Comforts of our homes.
Connectivity, and global
Collaboration of all individuals will help
Control the spread of the virus.
Collectively, we ask you to
Come together by staying home, to
Continue creating, and encourage you to
Communicate with those you love.
The video features UArts alums Jen Lacy BFA ‘16 (Dance), Georgia Gavran BFA ‘15 (Dance), Matt Emig BFA ‘16 (Dance), Abigail Stachnik BFA ‘15 (Dance), Miles Yeung BFA ‘14 (Dance), Inger Cooper BFA ‘15 (Dance), Ella Cuda BFA ‘15 (Dance) and Colin Heininger BFA ‘16 (Dance). See the video for the rest of the ensemble.
I LIKE YOU, YOU’RE NICE
Laurin Talese BM ‘04 (Vocal Performance) curated a lineup for the Act4Music online music festival. Her show “Fabulous. Formidable. Female.” debuted on May 6th and is available throughout the festival. You can watch her lineup as well as the other programming here.
Not only is she curating performances, Laurin released a cover and music video of “I Like You, You’re Nice” originally by Blossom Dearie. Check out the heartwarming video here.
A LABOR OF LOVE
Tess Kunik BFA ‘13 (Acting) has been working on an important project. In January of 2019, Tess's 19-year old sister and best friend, Liv died by suicide while away at college. Immediately following her service, Tess and her mom, Honey, joined filmmakers Alan Hicks (QUINCY, KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON) and friend and producer Paula DuPre’ Pesmen (QUINCY, KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON, CHASING ICE, THE COVE) to create the film, LIV, to raise awareness around this critical issue with the hopes of reducing youth suicide.
Seeing the powerful impact the film was having with young people, the team moved to direct their focus towards a needed outreach campaign. A strategic and active advisory group formed that included mental health professionals; impact media professionals; educators; youth and more, to create The LIV Project.
The LIV Project is moving quickly to develop a product that fits into our realities of quarantine and activates needed and Fearless Talk. The LIVing Room Box (working title) will share the film and provide tools for meaningful conversations, all designed to guide and educate people to grow their knowledge and comfort to support others who are struggling.
OM AT HOME: A Yoga Fundraiser for UArts Cares
Join us on Tuesday, May 12, at 5 p.m. for a relaxing and fun online yoga practice led by UArts staff member, Jill Manning.
This class is pay-what-you-can ($1 minimum) and 100% of the proceeds will support UArts Cares.
MEET THE GRADUATES
Not only did we host our commencement ceremony online this year, but we also rolled out a full website dedicated to our graduating students. Each graduate is given a page to upload three pieces of work, their website, resume, and artistic statement. Take some time to browse the site and get to know the artists of 2020.
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
One of the most moving parts of the virtual ceremony was the performance of “With a Little Help From My Friends.” The song hit us all a little differently this year.
Our students might not have been able to show their work in galleries or on stages this year. However, many departments have shared student thesis projects, showcases and online.