Lenore Thomas, associate professor and chair of the Department of Studio Arts, woke up with a clear vision: to create an interactive gallery for the 2021 Student Exhibition where visitors could learn about and experience the success of the department’s graduating seniors–without ever setting foot inside the physical gallery.
Through collaboration with the Teaching Center, that vision became a reality.
“We have a slide show on our website, but I wanted something more for our students knowing that the pandemic might prevent us from having our capstone experience in person,” Thomas said. “I was looking for ways to make the best possible situation for our graduating seniors.”
The Student Exhibition is a significant event within the life of the Department of Studio Arts. It is a celebration of the accomplishments of 15 seniors who will graduate in May, August, and December of 2021, and reflects work that spans the emotional, political, and social experience of the past year.
The end result was an immersive virtual experience that allows web visitors to click and “walk” through the exhibition, turning left and right and clicking on icons to learn more about each student and piece of artwork in the gallery.
Isis Duncan, Max Glider, and Robert Williams from the Teaching Center’s Classroom Services team connected with Thomas and offered a new service: virtual reality (VR) tour creation. With a state-of-the-art VR camera and software, they visited the Lexington Gallery Space in Homewood and documented all of the imagery on display in the Student Exhibition.
Each piece of art is prominently featured and accompanied by audio commentary from students in Professor Katie Waring’s Audio Storytelling class.
“While the works came in a diverse range of subjects and mediums, they were all interconnected,” said Duncan. “I needed a solution that would maintain viewer accessibility, directly display all of the artwork, and respect the underlying link between them, yet still offer personalized space for each work’s detail and the artist’s story. With Kuula’s platform and our 360-degree camera, we were able to synergize our goals, and provide an immersive experience that viewers can enjoy well after the physical exhibition ends.”
You can view the exhibition and learn more about the artwork featured in this year’s gallery on the Department of Studio Arts website.
“(Classroom Services) went above and beyond their jobs — learning new software, new technology, meeting me off campus,” Thomas said. “The students absolutely loved working with them. Not only do they know what they are doing, but they are great colleagues. I appreciated the time (so much time!) they put into this very large project and hope that we get to do more together next year, improving on the things we did this year.”