A drawing of a woman by art student.
Art student Mya Levitch holds one of her completed class projects.

Grace Debatez, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln theatre performance student, wakes up at 7:55 a.m. She puts her hair up and throws on a pair of sweatpants for the tenth day in a row. Debatez then pushes boxes full of clothes to the side of her childhood bedroom. She turns on her laptop and opens Zoom by 7:59 a.m.  As her laptop camera turns on she notices her unmade bed is visible on the screen so she tilts the laptop to the right and smiles as she begins her biweekly Zoom dance course. 

This story is a reality for many UNL students, especially those pursuing degrees in art, who have now had to transfer to online courses due to the spread of Coronavirus. 

Debatez said  two of her classes rely heavily on in-class work; a voice course and a movement course. Both classes involve in-class performances and moving around the classroom to learn the information.

Not only do her classmates need the space to fully engage in their coursework but, like so many different courses, they need each other too.  

“We can’t truly practice our craft individually all the time. It’s largely collaborative work that relies on human connection,” Debatez said.

The importance of being in class is important for other art students as well.

One student who is coping with online courses is sophomore studio art major Mya Levitch.

Although Levitch’s classes don’t rely on movement and human interaction, she uses tools and software that are only available in the classroom.

“The majority of my classwork would need to be done in the studio, so I am almost always in Richards Hall,” Levitch said.

Levitch and her classmates have been in the studio a lot this past semester as they were learning to draw figures from observation through the use of nude models.

Now that in-person observation is not possible, the students have had to improvise by drawing self-portraits while looking in the mirror.

Although coursework can be adjusted, showcases of art major’s work cannot, causing many end-of-the year performances and shows to be canceled.

“Being involved in productions is arguably one of the most educationally valuable experiences of drama school and many of us were well into our processes, designs, and constructions of different shows, but we will never get to see that hard work pay off.”

The cancellation of final showcases has been hard on art students but, the response from their professors has brought some optimism.

“Professors have been extremely creative to continue advancing our skills. Even though we have experienced so many unexpected changes in such a short amount of time, we are provided help and instructions to feel confident in doing so,” Levitch said.

The optimism from the art professors has helped students, like Debatez and Levitch, take notice of how unique the college experience is.  

“I now see how special the short time we have in school truly is,” Levitch said.

For more information on how the University of Nebraska is handling the COVID-19 pandemic check out nebraska.edu/covid-19.

My name is Hannah Stodolka and I am a senior Broadcasting and Sports Media and Communication double major from Omaha, Nebraska. I love watching, playing, and telling stories about all things sports. Eventually, I hope to be a sideline reporter or work for a professional sports team.