At home and around the world, people are turning to art to express themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This spring in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, pandemic-inspired artistic expression came from an unlikely source. Led by adjunct professor and New Paltz alumna Victoria St. George ’99 (Art), ‘03g (Special Education), students in the “Elementary American Sign Language 2” course created beautiful works of art that showcase Deaf culture, history and community while sharing messages of faith, hope and unity in uncertain times.
St. George included among four student project options an art piece that required students to express themselves in a nonverbal way by incorporating American Sign Language (ASL) in their compositions. St. George, herself a painter, sculpture, photographer and all-around crafter, said she wasn’t sure if anyone would select the project, but “wanted to make sure we had an assignment that they could express how they were feeling about everything happening in the world right now.”
“Art has a way of making you look within without even knowing it,” she said.
Her students, who began the year in a hybrid-version of the course, have, since the fully-online transition, communicated thrice-weekly in Zoom meetings, practiced ASL with peer partners, recorded themselves signing, and extended their learning by viewing instructor-created videos.
Students who have demonstrated remarkable resilience during an unexpected period of transition brought their instructor to tears with their art.
“They were raw and honest, kind and sweet and inspirational,” said St. George. “The pieces the students did were all so different, and as a teacher, it always amazes me how you give one assignment, and every person creates something totally different. I was truly humbled and inspired.”
View a gallery of the students’ work below.
On the cover: “ASL is Colorful” by Hannah Milligan