COVID-19’s Effect on a Senior Art Student

Written by Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith Working At Home
Hannah Smith working on a project
Photo: Hannah Smith

We all know about the Coronavirus and that it has been impacting people’s lives immensely through health, financial, educational, and social aspects. My name is Hannah Smith, and I have also been affected by COVID-19. I am a Senior Art Major at Eastern Oregon University, and I just started my final term where I will be graduating in June. I first learned of the Coronavirus at the end of my Winter Term, and I had no idea it would spread into my life. My whole world has turned upside down because of the virus, and it’s hard to stay optimistic when so much has become ruined by it. Like many others, there are some experiences that I will never get to enjoy because they have been taken by the virus.

As a senior Art Major, I have spent the last six months creating artwork for my Senior Capstone Exhibition. I have slaved away creating with literal blood, sweat, and tears to finish my work. And I had finally completed everything for my show that was to open April 4th, when the COVID-19 decided to worsen. Then my world fell apart, campus closed down, and events were canceled. I learned that my senior show was canceled and that there is no date set for when my artwork will be on display. I was devastated and still am, thinking about how my artwork did not get to be seen, and might not be.

Not only was my show cancelled, but the Nightingale Gallery was shut down and will remain closed until further notice. I have worked in the Nightingale Gallery since October of 2016 and now my job has been taken away from me.

I was working four jobs before COVID-19 hit, and now I only have two jobs. I worked at Elkhorn Media Group, which is a seasonal job, so that was already ending when the virus spread. I also work at Walmart, which has been extremely stressful during this pandemic because of the panic of the masses and that I’m forced to work in an environment where I could potentially catch COVID-19. I am incredibly thankful that I still have this job and that I am considered an “essential employee” since it’s the bulk of my income. At the same time, I am nervous for my health and my family’s. I have to be extremely careful at work to not be exposed, yet it seems inevitable. As a cashier, I can’t exactly stay six feet apart, so I just have to hope that a sick customer doesn’t come into the store. I’m also very worried that anyone could give the virus to me which I could pass on to someone else. My father is high risk; he’s older and has many health issues, so I haven’t been able to visit my parents since I work in an environment where I am in contact with countless numbers of people.

Though the aspect of health and finances are extremely important and have been impacted the most for people during this pandemic, I find myself the most distraught by the experiences and social relationships I have lost in the educational setting. I have to finish my last term at Eastern Oregon University online. I have only ever taken one online class and I hated it, so now to be forced to finish online has been heartbreaking. No longer can I hang out with friends and meet with teachers, but I also can’t do my artwork the same way. Art isn’t exactly something you can do online. Though my professors are working around this issue, it will not be the same as being on-campus. I do not have the studio space or resources as I would normally have. Thus, all my big plans for making art have been ruined. I do not have a space at home to work in, and I can’t afford to buy supplies to make at the same level I did before the virus. Before I could ask my professors for more art supplies, but now I only have available what they send me through mail. Plus, they cannot look at my artwork the same way as before. Meeting in big groups for critique has been lost and viewing details is nearly impossible with online.

I am saddened that I will not finish my bachelor’s degree with a bang like I had hoped. I don’t even know if graduation will happen. Spending four years in college just to have the finish line ripped right from under my feet is just about the worst thing I have ever experienced. I am incredibly thankful for the people who are trying to make things work during the virus, but the loss of so many experiences outweighs the good. I just hope that the COVID-19 will lessen so that I and others can enjoy these irreplaceable milestones in our lives before it’s too late.

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