Creating Art in the Era of COVID-19

Like so many other events during the time of COVID-19, the 11th Annual Stern Senior Show 2020 has had to move its exhibition online. In “normal” times, the show would have opened at the Yeshiva University Museum on the day before the YU commencement in a gallery designed by the students themselves with the guidance of design faculty and Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of the YU Museum.

But the senior artists, undaunted by these obstacles, managed to transition their show, titled Euphorbia, to a virtual with the help of Traci Tullius, associate professor of art, co-chair of the Department of Fine Arts and Music and director of the Studio Art program, and Mary Creede, instructor in art.

Logo of Euphorbia

The exhibition name comes from “a large genus of plants whose symbolic meaning is ‘persistence,’ known for its ability to adapt and thrive under harsh conditions,” an apt choice for these troubled times. In the introduction, the students speak about the sense of loss they felt as the coronavirus drove them all to leave for home with whatever art materials they could fit into their traveling bags.

“But, like the Euphorbia plant, we adapted [and] designed a virtual gallery to showcase our endeavors.  We created a space for our work to thrive.”

Euphorbia presents the work of Rachel Berger, Chava Bluman, Tamar Cement, Hannah Fishman, Yael Frank, Basya Goldstein, Sophia Gordon, Ava Korman, Alisa Neugroschl, Rocky Pincus, Ariella Rand, Toby Sandhaus, Atara Sragow and Shayna Weiss. The art displays a multitude of interests in a variety of media, running from video productions, such as Tamar Ciment’s short films in homage to her favorite directors, Yael Frank’s 6′ by 8′ acrylic painting on canvas of words and text, Ava Korman’s hand-cut paper flowers and Alisa Neugroschl’s textile designs. (This short description barely scratches the surface of the delightful variety and skill of the work on offer.)

Another traditional event that had to move online because of the pandemic was the annual 8th floor Salon Show, for undergraduate artwork created this academic year, presented this year in a flipbook format.

“We’re very proud of what the students accomplished under less-than-ideal circumstances,” said Tullius. “But the work they produced and their success in putting together such a masterful presentation is a real bright spot for YU in a time filled with so many challenges and disappointments.”

The show will be up in its current form through Spring 2021, when the 12th annual show will premiere. The plan is to continue to have a virtual complement to each year’s show and maintain an archive of previous shows on the site going forward.
Additional content will be added over the summer, including artist interviews and process documentation.