COVID-19 Challenges Creativity

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

by Lilia Ambler

Purchase College Conservatory students are navigating the newfound challenges of maintaining creativity and motivation, both in-person and remote, during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, students studying fine arts are finding it more challenging than ever to stay motivated and inspired while enjoying creating their work. Acting majors at Purchase College are receiving a mere four weeks of in-person classes, and once that time comes to a close, they will be asked to take classes solely from home. This will leave them with only Zoom as a platform to work and grow their art.

Emma Pesin in her bedroom converted to art studio in Brooklyn NY (Photo by Emma Pesin)

A senior acting major, Patrick Moore said, “I feel like if I’m just in my personal space trying to make things or push my boundaries it’s going to be hard because I’m always going to be living in a comfort zone, like, physically in my comfort zone.”

Another student, Emma Pesin, is a junior double majoring in graphic design as well as painting and drawing. She is currently taking classes off-campus from her bedroom in Brooklyn, N.Y. She said, “For graphic design, it’s a lot more computer work, but for painting and drawing the physical act of painting just feels very draining after being on the computer all day. Even though it should be enjoyable, it’s really not.”

Many students are finding it very hard to get through long hours on Zoom. “Zoom is a little draining,” said senior art history and painting and drawing major, Stephanie Alifano. “Being in class on Zoom feels more like work than just being in class regularly. It’s somehow strenuous.”

The simple fact that more time is being committed to Zoom than to the work students are being asked to create is making it difficult for students to stay motivated. Pesin added, “I want to enjoy doing each project, but I also know that I have a time limit, and I have to get things done while trying to push myself in my projects. It just seems very overwhelming so far.”

However, students who are back on campus are appreciating their school and in-person classes more than ever. Despite the many restrictions for dance majors this semester, one dancer seems to be making the most out of the situation.

Carly Olson, a junior dance and arts management major said, “Honestly when I keep things in perspective, I think, would I rather be at home dancing in my bedroom, or would I rather be here dancing with a mask on the inside of a square, and it’s definitely the latter.” She is valuing her time at school more than ever this year, especially because of the abrupt end of in-person classes in the middle of last semester. This was due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Westchester County. Olson added, “Just the fact that we are in person means so much more now than it did before. To just be able to go to class every day is just such a blessing.”

Alifano has found that being back on campus has allowed her to be in her peak creative state. Being back on campus, she now has the space to make bigger works and the freedom to just think of something and create it. She explained, “The less that I can create, the less ideas I have. My ideas come from creating other works.”

Alifano's senior art studio(Photo by Lilia Amber)

Despite the new restrictions and limited resources, hopes remain high among Purchase college arts. No matter how drained, motivated, or discouraged an artist is right now, one student was able to truly capture the desires of what any artist would want to gain out of this challenging and unprecedented time.

Moore stated, “I think we’re going to see a lot of very interesting,

introspective, and personal art come out of all of this. I’ve had time to sit with myself and ask: What do I really want? What am I experiencing in this moment? How is it affecting me, and once this all ends, what will I be left with then? I hope can at least look back at this time and say I made the most out of what we were given. I hope everyone, artistically, can say that.”

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PSGA Bylaws (August 2018), Student Bill of Rights, Section B. Freedom of Speech, Press and Inquiry

Neither the student government nor any faculty or administrative person or board shall make a rule or regulation or take any action which abridges students’ freedom of speech, press or inquiry, as guaranteed Constitutional rights as citizens of the United States. Students of the campus are guaranteed:

  1.  the right to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them, and to express opinion privately and publicly;

  2. the right to learn in the spirit of free inquiry;

  3. the right to be informed of the purposes of all research in which they are expected or encouraged to participate either as subject or researcher;

  4. the right to freedom from censorship in campus newspapers and other media 

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