Skip to main content

Saint Louis University Header Logo Center

Menu Search & Directory

Fine and Performing Arts in the COVID Era

by Katie Gortz on 12/26/2020

The circumstances dictated by the global pandemic have challenged educators worldwide to innovate new ways to empower students while prioritizing health and safety. SLU-Madrid opted for an inclusive hybrid academic programming model to accommodate both on-campus and remote students during the fall 2020 semester. For faculty in SLU-Madrid’s Fine and Performing Arts Department, this meant searching for new ways to stimulate artistic creativity and interact with students. 

Theatre Workshop

The Fall 2020 Theatre Workshop set aside lights, costumes and props to explore the art of radio drama.

“Actors had to convey everything with only their voices,” explained Cary Barney, M.F.A., who directs the SLU-Madrid Theatre Workshop and serves as program director for the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. This was an exciting opportunity to learn “what theatre can do when social distancing keeps us offstage,” he added.

In SLU-Madrid’s first-ever audio production, "It's the Weird Sisters Show," starring Natalie Alper, Aristote Rwigara, Evie Stancil, and Lucia Sanz, the witches (or are they witches?) from Shakespeare's "Macbeth" confront the modern world and Hollywood.

For its second production, the Theatre Workshop presented "With Friends Like These," two short video plays that were written by students and performed over Zoom. The first, Aristote Rwigara’s “False Positive,” examines what the fear of COVID-19 can do to friendships. In the second, Natalie Alper’s “Nobody Dies from a Joke,” a prank played on a friend goes a little too well. 

Studio Art

At the end of each semester, students in painting, drawing, sculpture and design classes showcase their works of art in the semiannual Studio Art Exhibition. In response to the limitations imposed by the pandemic last spring, SLU-Madrid held the exhibition online for the first time, presenting the artwork via SLU-Madrid’s Facebook page and Instagram stories. Studio art professors Óscar Sánchez, Isabel Albertos and Emma Ferguson were eager to hold exhibition online again this semester, enabling their students to share their work with a larger audience.

Students in Professor Isabel Albertos’s design class kicked off the Fall 2020 Studio Art Exhibition, followed by Professor Sánchez’s sculpture and drawing classes. The exhibition came to a close with the works created by the students in Professor Emma Ferguson’s painting class. 

Lapo Stefanelli portrait of Drogba

"Lapo Stefanelli tackled a very ambitious project in his analogous colors portrait of the soccer player, Drogba. As a student in a foundations-level course, I am impressed with the quality of his work," said Professor Emma Fergusen, who teaches painting at SLU-Madrid.

Music Department 

The music department also held its Final Concert and Christmas Carol Sing-Along over Zoom earlier this month. Students of vocal and instrumental music performed in the concert and in some cases, were accompanied by their professors, even though they were located in different countries. At the end of the concert, Javier Jáuregui, guitar professor and music program coordinator, and his wife Guðrún Ólafsdóttir, SLU-Madrid vocal instructor, performed Christmas carols with their daughter from their home in Iceland. 

We’re proud of the imaginative, innovative ways we’ve been able to keep our students creating in this difficult semester, with a flexible mix of in-person and online classes. Our performances have been over digital media instead of in-the-flesh, but discovering these new means has been a stimulating adventure.”

Cary Barney, MFA, Fine and Performing Arts Program Director

“We’re proud of the imaginative, innovative ways we’ve been able to keep our students creating in this difficult semester, with a flexible mix of in-person and online classes,” commented Barney. “Our performances have been over digital media instead of in-the-flesh, but discovering these new means has been a stimulating adventure.”

Barney concluded with an important reminder to us all: “The challenge of adversity always leads to new opportunities.”