Hopkinsarts.com Artist Spotlights
From virtual a capella performances to intricate drawings, Hopkins’ Arts Department website, hopkinsarts.com, features many different student artists.
Given the necessity of displaying art online during the hybrid model, artists are adapting to inconsistent working conditions and changing their creative processes.
One section of the website is dedicated to the Community Gallery Show, “Three Dimensions.” The gallery displays triple submissions that solve a theme of your choice in three different ways. In a normal year, the show would take place in the Keator Gallery; however, with Covid-19 restrictions, the artists were limited to uploading their work digitally.
YuQing Ma ’22 submitted her piece “A Heart Forms Seven Sides: Three of Seven.” The piece was inspired by a character in the game Onmyouji named Menreiki. “The game is based on Japanese culture and traditional myths,” Ma says. “Menreiki is a type of yokai (monster) composed of Gigaku and Japanese theatre masks. Her character lore and design in-game revolves around seven masks that each represent a different feeling.” Following the show’s theme, Ma chose three of the seven masks to draw. To her, the contrast between the first and third one really stood out, and the one in the middle didn’t represent humans. “One is [xiao miàn], which stands for youth in my drawing, although it could also stand for rationality and vivid self-representation. [hú miàn] is connected to the Inari-Okami, who brings harvest. [lao miàn] stands for loneliness, uncertainty, pain, and an elder man”
At first, Ma wasn’t sure if she wanted to commit to her idea, especially with “fewer big blocks of time to work on it in class” due to the hybrid model. After finishing drawing the first mask, however, she found the “motivation” to keep going. In the end, while not the “happiest with the final result,” Ma deemed her piece “acceptable” enough to submit to the gallery. Although Ma did not have to alter her process drastically to display her work on hopkinsarts.com, other artists are not so lucky. Orly Baum ’22, co-head of the all-female a capella group Triple Trio, had to change her approach from start to finish in order to upload the group’s rendition of “That’s Christmas to Me” to the “Freestyle” page.
The group meets twice a week over Zoom to practice. Baum explained the challenges of the rehearsal process: “it’s a lot different now. We rehearse our songs using MIDI’s, which are practice tracks. Each member will learn their part on their own and then after a few rehearsals, we’ll all make a Soundtrap [a digital, collaborative recording soft- ware] for it where we record our parts.” The group makes their video recordings in the next rehearsal, and then stitch them together to create the final product.
A major part of a capella is the onstage connection between singers which the audience feels during live performances. Now, not only is it harder to feel the singers’ camaraderie through the computer screen, but Triple Trio members also have fewer bonding opportunities. Baum said: “it’s tough that we don’t get the social time we would normally have during practice. I think of Triple Trio as not only an a cappella group but a group of girls I’m really close with. Now, because we can only meet through Zoom, it’s hard to get that bonding.” Baum is unsure how this affects the newcomers of the group. “In rehearsal, our usual routine is to rehearse the song in parts, so I’ll put them into break-out rooms accordingly. My hope is that they’ll take twenty minutes of that time to rehearse and ten minutes to socialize and get to know each other. Even though all of Triple Trio is really close, I know that I’m closest to the people in my part, so I try to switch it up. It’s good not only for musical growth but growth as a group.”
Another challenge Baum faces is finding the right music. “There aren’t that many soprano-soprano-alto-alto arrangements that suit our group, so when I found ‘That’s Christmas to Me’ I knew it was going to be perfect for our holiday performance,” Baum commented. She also chose the song for its difficulty. “There were some parts that had more simple rhythms but other parts that relied on each member to have more rhythmic and tonal accuracy.”
Creating art has been a challenge for many this year. With Covid-19 and the hybrid model hindering their ability to create, student artists have had to adapt and grow. As Baum puts it, art is something people “want to participate in, can find friendships from, and have fun while doing so.”