Like just about all institutions of higher learning in America, the Herron School of Art and Design moved online for the Spring. Instructors found innovative ways to share information and set up home studios. Students, staff and faculty, made masks for hospitals to help protect against COVID-19. School staff are putting innovative programming online, and helping the community out in other ways.
Although there will be a return to in-person instruction at Herron in the fall, the rate of new COVID-19 infections could very well spike during that time, and the processes put in place will be useful if stay-at-home orders are put in place again.
Greg Hull, Herron’s interim dean, is spearheading an effort to employ 3D printers to make clear plastic face masks for health care workers.
“We're each running machines in our own places,” says Hull. “It’s a relatively slow process, printing one design which is one of the first ones that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and supported by the National Institutes of Health.”
Hull and others at Herron considered using the 3D printers at Herron in order to make this personal protective equipment. After taking into account social distancing guidelines, however, it made more sense to have the work done from home.
“The designs that we're pursuing are two pieces,” says Hull. “There’s a headband, which is what we're printing and then there's a laser cut clear plastic shield.”
Paul Williams, a senior at Herron majoring in integrative studio practice — specializing in sculpture and furniture design — is assisting Hull in this endeavor.
“I just started printing some of my own personal printers because I have two,” he says.
This is not the only activity that Herron students and faculty have been involved in to help mitigate the shortage of PPE at medical facilities.
Sara Cole, director of community learning programs, is a member of the Black Hat Society in Irvington, and worked with them to sew masks since the third week in March.
“We started immediately making masks collectively as a group ... trying to coordinate with health workers to see where the need was,” she says.
External affairs and content specialist Whitney Yoerger has provided students with helpful online resources including a web page dedicated to setting up and maintaining home studios.
The site is full of helpful hints and practical advice such as this from Anita Giddings, senior lecturer of elective arts and foundation studies;
"When working on paintings, lighting is important, and using portable lights will help. The rest will depend on the space and the size of the canvases."
Yoerger had anticipated before the pandemic that Herron students would be trying to make work at home. “I just decided to reach out to faculty to gather some of their advice and several important little bits of advice stuck with me,” she says. “I pulled it together and got it up and it seemed to be a positive response and people are using it as a resource.”
Associate professor of furniture design Katie Hudnall found a creative way to engage her students online, by having them research artists who either make art furniture or small batch production furniture. “I gave them a list of 100 artists that they could choose from and they each had to take a couple and then do a PowerPoint presentation of those artists and what they found interesting about them,” she says. “Then they all had to make a model of one of those artists' pieces. One person carved a chair out of a potato, which is a surprisingly carvable substance.”