Fall 2020: A look into our first virtual semester!

By: Marilyn Nguyen (Ryman ’11), Development Coordinator

Ryman Arts went fully virtual for the Fall 2020 semester! From socially distanced art supply distribution to our first Instagram Live student art exhibition reception, the fall semester was an exciting period full of firsts for us! Looking back, here are some of our favorite program highlights.

For the fall semester, we accepted 65 new students from 52 different high schools! With support from our amazing staff, faculty, and teaching assistants, we began our semester with a virtual orientation, and we were able to safely distribute art supplies to each of our 190 new and returning students.

“Thank you again for all the wonderful art supplies! Please thank all the generous donors because they make it possible for Alyssa and her peers to have this amazing opportunity to learn from talented instructors and grow as artists. Please thank your staff as well for planning and organizing the art materials. Your hard work is much appreciated!” remarked parents Steve and Kathy Fukumoto.

Teaching Assistant Christine Marcelle (Ryman ‘11) distributing art supplies
Teaching Assistant Christine Marcelle (Ryman ‘11) distributing art supplies

Our fall semester included 10 studio class sessions, college workshops, and guest artist sessions. Classes were a combination of live discussion, demonstrations, critiques, and art-making time.

Master Teaching Artist Robin Palanker explained her teaching setup for online Foundation Drawing classes:
“Working virtually, I didn't want the students to work from any single image provided by me. This is a class in observational drawing! But I couldn't provide a preliminary visual. The solution has been to display sample objects on screen like the ones gathered under my computer screen, then show homework of the same lesson by former students in PowerPoint. The students get ten minutes to put something together. As always, I want the students to make their own decisions about what to draw, working with the concept of the week's lesson. The results have been thrilling!"

Master Teaching Artist Robin Palanker’s teaching setup
Master Teaching Artist Robin Palanker’s teaching setup

Online homework assignment critique in Master Teaching Artist Kaleeka Bond's class
Critique in Master Teaching Artist Kaleeka Bond's class

Master Teaching Artist Ja'Rie Gray shared her experience teaching classes online:
"My experience now teaching online hasn’t really changed much. I still give my lectures the same way. Students are still painting and drawing in class. But one of the things that is different is the fact that I’m not physically there to correct them and help them through the process. And that’s probably the only challenge. Other than that, Ryman Arts students are amazing, and because of their drive, they still produce incredible work.”

Assessing her experience, student Maddie Runcie (Ryman ’22) expressed, “One of the main reasons I made so much progress this semester has to do with my amazing instructor, [Robin Palanker]. She gave critiques, encouraged each and every one of the students, and created an environment of learning and trust. Because we were doing new projects every week, I learned to push myself to finish and explore new materials.”

Student Joe Fratantuno (Ryman ’21) with his still life assignment set up
"I know it's not in person, but it has really helped to have an outlet to do art and stay sane during this pandemic." – Student Joe Fratantuno (Ryman ’21)

In addition to online instructions, students had the opportunity to participate in extensive college preparation activities. During our College Preparation Weekend, we hosted 35 college workshops. Students learned about financial aid education, portfolio preparation, college life, and more through virtual sessions with college representatives from across the country.

Building a Drawing-based Portfolio for Animation, Game Art, & Entertainment Design workshop presented by Ray Vargas, Admissions Counselor at Laguna College of Art & Design
Building a Drawing-based Portfolio for Animation, Game Art, & Entertainment Design workshop presented by Ray Vargas, Admissions Counselor at Laguna College of Art & Design

Financial Aid Info Session with Matthew Gallagher, Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid from Otis College of Art and Design
Financial Aid Info Session with Matthew Gallagher, Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid from Otis College of Art and Design

Our Executive Director Diane Brigham hosts a parent forum to discuss strategies for Ryman Arts parents to help their child navigate the college application process in a positive way.
Our Executive Director Diane Brigham hosts a parent forum to discuss strategies for Ryman Arts parents to help their child navigate the college application process in a positive way

Students also attended a series of virtual Artist Talks with guest artists Julie Weitz, Nicole J. George, Lanise Howard, Buscada, and Mauricio Abril.

Guest Artist Lanise Howard invites our students into her studio, virtually
Guest Artist Lanise Howard invites our students into her studio, virtually

Wrapping up the fall semester, Ryman Arts held an online student artwork exhibition with our first Instagram Live opening reception hosted by our Site and Outreach Coordinator Ana Garcia. View our Fall 2020 Ryman Arts Student Art Exhibition HERE.

Ana Garcia (Top) with Master Teaching Artist Chloe Allred (Left) and student Bella Varieur (Ryman ’21) (Right) on Instagram Live
Ana Garcia (Top) with Master Teaching Artist Chloe Allred (Left) and student Bella Varieur (Ryman ’21) (Right) on Instagram Live

“Art, especially representational drawing and painting is a form of social interaction. Even though it’s being done remotely, students still have the chance to study and create art. As artists and teachers, we are still able to provide the tools to future artists to communicate and converse in the language of art,” commented Master Teaching Artist Manny Cosentino on the impact of Ryman Arts for its students during these challenging times.

Despite attending classes from home, our students expressed gratitude for being able to continue having Ryman Arts classes.

“I enjoyed this semester at Ryman Arts,” reflected student Kaitlyn Ng (Ryman ‘21). “I was surprised to see myself learn and grow the most ever in my life. I discovered that I truly love art and want to pursue a career in the field. Being at Ryman Arts brought out lots of qualities such as responsibility, honesty, vulnerability, curiosity, and self-expressionism from me this semester.”

We are incredibly grateful to be able to continue providing high-quality art instructions and services to students who need us most, during these challenging times. And we look forward to offering our virtual classes in the spring to talented teens from across Southern California until we can all safely meet in person, again.