Starting this school year, I felt a mixture of anticipation, excitement, and unease. While I was looking forward to coming back to campus, there was great uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the university’s handling of it. I like having the opportunity to see friends and walk around campus, but health and safety concerns are still incredibly important things to consider. For a nerd like me, one of the things I loved most about being a student in Ann Arbor was the array of opportunities to attend concerts, workshops, and other arts events. What does this look like during a pandemic? Is life in Ann Arbor drastically different without movie dates at the Michigan Theater or SMTD performances in the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre?
The end of classes last school year marked the beginning of a strange summer, which then led to an unprecedented fall semester. It’s understandable to feel nostalgic for a “normal” college experience. For many students, it can be exhausting to sit in front of a computer screen all day. For me, these are reasons to incorporate more art into our lives. Experimenting with a new art medium—or, if you can handle more screen time, adding a virtual arts event to your schedule—could be a good way to break up the monotonous routine of working, studying, eating, and (hopefully) sleeping. Along with discussions about topics such as musicals and current events, my blog series will document my journey in connecting with the arts from home. This may include digital arts experiences, reflections as a writer, or my attempts at different art forms/arts and crafts that readers could potentially also do at home (watercolor painting, letter writing, etc.).
As bitter as 2020 has been, the pandemic revealed how crucial creative expression is for people. Through social media, many people have shared their artwork, ideas, and more to emphasize how important it is to have a connection to the arts. The lengths we’ve gone to adapt to this new normal underline the innate desire many of us have to express and explore our creative sides. While traditional access to the arts has been limited, television and the internet have become increasingly valuable tools in displaying art and providing access to different art forms. Various organizations, artists, and venues, for example, have worked hard to make their art accessible online. Of course, the role of audience members and magic of live performances aren’t the same, but offering virtual options is an innovative way to remain relevant and spread art to the masses during these trying times. It’s admirable how people have maintained accessibility to live events—performances, festivals, classes—through virtual means. Think about it. Even if you haven’t viewed a virtual concert or attended a painting workshop via Zoom, you have probably watched a movie or television show. Quarantine has given people an ample amount of time to “consume film as a visual art” (i.e. binge watch Netflix). Through my exploration of the arts such as these, I hope this blog serves as a way to continue the conversation of incorporating art into our everyday lives at home.