Art and Art History

A Virtual Canvas

The Annual Student Exhibition at the Berman Museum of Art proudly highlights the creativity, hard work and resilience of Ursinus College’s student artists. This year, their work will be on view in a unique virtual gallery on the Berman’s website.

The digital exhibition features the art of nine students working in painting, drawing, sculpture, video, mixed media and photography. From the perspective of many voices, it explores themes of family, identity, the environment and more.

Participants include Kristen Cooney ’22, Katelyn Doherty ’21, Kelsey Gavin ’22, Julia Huff ’20, Abigail Krasutsky ’21, Sarah Marchione ’22, Joseph Simon ’20, Mia Truman ’20 and Robert Varney ’20.

For many of the student artists, the shift to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic brought upon new challenges in how they created art.

“Most of the pieces that are in my exhibit were created at home in the last month and a half,” said Huff, who initially found it hard to look for inspiration to create art.

“I was able to find a subject that I enjoy, which was paintings of nature and animals,” she said. “I created a few of these at home and found that it was sort of a coping mechanism. I only had to concentrate on the scenes I was creating in my paintings, and so it helped me to forget about [the pandemic] for a little bit. I think that having the show online will be beneficial. I now have edited pictures and an online portfolio that I can use to apply for things post-graduation. Overall, as it was a disappointment to end my senior year in this way, I think that the art department at Ursinus and the Berman staff have done an amazing job at trying to make this as good as possible for students.”

Varney, a photographer, also worried about what a stay-at-home order would mean for his work, but he says, “I have been able to strike a nice balance of finding ways to document this experience from indoors, as well as outside when I can.”

Varney’s work on view this year is a photo project about his grandmother and the challenges she faced when his grandfather developed Alzheimer’s disease.

“I find telling my grandmother’s story important to the conversation around aging and especially dementia,” he says.

Even though online learning took the student artists out of their comfort zones and away from the Berman Museum and Ritter Center, they found ways to think outside the box.

“Of course, this pandemic has caused a lot of issues, but looking at the silver lining, it is really pushing me to grow as an artist by challenging me to use everyday objects and new mediums to create art,” Cooney said.

View the online exhibition from May 15 through July 15 on the Berman’s website. –By Ed Moorhouse