December 1, 2020
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Without materials and hands-on experience, art students struggle with online classes

By Olivia Bowman
Correspondent

When Isabel Smith borrowed a camera from the Interactive Multimedia department on March 12, she had no idea it would be her last time stepping foot in the AIMM building until the fall semester.

Students create art during in-person classes (tcnj.edu).

Smith, a freshman photography major, is one of the thousands of students at the College who were told to stay home and continue their classes remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Smith was forced to leave behind all of her photography equipment and digital imaging supplies, making it virtually impossible to complete projects at home. Smith, among many other art students, is at a loss – how is she supposed to finish the spring semester? 

“I was not able to pick up any of my supplies that I did not bring home myself,” Smith said. “I only brought my camera because I knew I would want to use it while on break. This all happened very fast.” 

As an art student, Smith said that the switch from in-person classes to remote instruction has been especially tough. 

“My 3-D design class is basically wood shop,” Smith said. “We work with cardboard, wood, metal and use a variety of power tools, which are all things that most students do not have at home.” 

Before the semester moved online, Smith’s 3-D design class met once a week for a little over three hours. Now, she is worried about having to be on her computer for upwards of three hours during the week.

“It is difficult to be present on my computer during class time, as it is from 5:30 to 8:50, or in my house, quality family time,” Smith said. “For 3-D, I do not feel prepared in the slightest.”

Smith feels that both students and professors are struggle to make progress during this unforeseen crisis. 

“As of (March 28), my 3-D professor has not mentioned anything regarding changing the way things work for our class,” Smith said. “My visual thinking professor has told us to not worry about due dates on the syllabus and will discuss with us once break is over.” 

Although she thinks that the adjustment will be challenging, Smith said she was impressed with how the school handled the situation.  

“I think they are doing a great job with the decisions they are making now,” she said. “Was I disappointed to find I won’t be completing spring 2020 on campus? Yes, of course. But safety comes first, and I feel they did everything gracefully.”

Smith lives two hours away from campus in Sussex county. She said that the drive home for her was tough due to the many emotions surrounding leaving school. 

“It’s nice to be home with my dogs, but it was my first semester back to school and my first time staying on campus.” she said. “I sort of feel cheated.”

However, this does not mean that Smith has given up hope. She is still looking forward to finishing the semester remotely and working on her photography and art. 

“Luckily both my parents love the arts so I have several outlets at home for crafts, painting, digital painting, photography, embroidery, plaster of Paris, pretty much anything I can find,” she said. “Overall, I already cannot wait until next semester on campus and for this to be over.”

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