Faculty members share art in virtual reality exhibition

“Grace of brief/#2” by Jill Vasileff, mixed media on suminigashi/mulberry paper

“Grace of brief/#2” by Jill Vasileff, mixed media on suminigashi/mulberry paper.

University of the Pacific arts faculty could have been daunted by the creative obstacles placed in front of them by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, they were inspired.

Eleven current or emerita faculty members—many working from home—continued to create, with the result being a virtual reality exhibition of their art from The Reynolds Gallery titled “going2ground.”

“When we said goodbye to campus in March 2020, many Pacific artists lost access to studio space and the in-person relationships that foster vibrant artistic practice,” University Curator and Assistant Professor of Practice Lisa Cooperman wrote about the exhibition. “Despite the pressure of switching to remote teaching and the isolation of quarantine, new forms of creativity emerged. This virtual exhibition features work that was created by faculty in the Department of Art, Media, Performance and Design (aka AMPD, home to Media X and the Art and Graphic Design program) during the end of the term and into the summer.”

On Sept. 24, artists held a virtual opening for “going2ground.” They entered Zoom chat rooms to talk with attendees about their work.

“We had a very nice turnout, and the artists enjoyed being able to talk about their work,” said Cooperman, who was one of the featured artists.

The online exhibition and guided tour will remain live for an undetermined time, Cooperman said.

She credited Keely Canniff, digital projects manager with the William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center, with helping create the virtual reality format. “Her work really helped bring this exhibition alive,” Cooperman said.

Canniff has done previous virtual reality projects for senior projects in the School of Engineering and Computer Sciences and the library’s 2020 time capsule project.

The exhibition has a variety of works including painting, wood sculpture, photography, video and more. Current and emeriti faculty featured are: Brett DeBoer, Cathie McClellan, Deanna Hunt, Jennifer Little, Jill Vasileff, Kevin Pontuti, Lisa Cooperman, Lucinda Kasser, Macelle Mahala, Marie Lee and Michael Leonard.

“Each one of the pieces meant something to me,” Cooperman said. “There was such a variety of artistic expression.”

The virtual format allows the faculty members to include reflections and descriptions of their works, including these excerpts:

Deanna Hunt (painting): “We need to prioritize getting out and connecting with nature.”

Michael Leonard (illustration): “I was thinking about the thread that these projects all have and it made me feel joy inside.”

Macelle Mahala (photography): “I thought this photograph conveyed … the somewhat surreal experience of the new realities of life under quarantine.”

Lucinda Kasser (painting): “I am so grateful to have an art practice to keep me sane, and I hope the paintings I make give others pleasure.”