COVID-19 forces cancellation of end-of-year gallery

Fine Art students transition to online art display amidst public health crisis

Graduating Queen's BFA students.

After a year of hard work, excitement, and preparation, Queen’s Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) majors have had to cancel their much-anticipated final art show.

The end-of-year art gallery was set to take place in Ontario Hall on April 25. The show was axed in the slew of public event cancellations taking place across the world due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

For the 17 BFA students graduating this April, the hard work they put into the exhibit has been unexpectedly sidelined due to the pandemic’s reach.

The event would have been the last art gallery in the BFA students’ undergraduate careers. It’s a rite of passage and a final farewell for majors of the program who take it as an opportunity to show off their thesis projects and other artwork they’ve created over their four years of study.

The cancellation of the BFA’s closing reception this year has diminished these students’ ability to showcase the work they did in their final semester at Queen’s.

Breanna Gordon (BFA ’20) spoke to The Journal about what the event’s cancellation means to her.

According to Gordon, the pandemic has robbed these emerging artists of what was meant to be an inspiring moment: the culmination of years of hard work, and a symbol of their transition from students to artistic professionals.

 “Everyone’s disappointed because it’s a big deal to have a graduation exhibition,” Gordon said. “It’s a signifier of coming out of [the program] and moving on with your career, but we won’t be able to have that opportunity this year.”

To make up for this lost opportunity, Gordon said BFA majors are cataloguing some of their completed work along with their project mission statements on the program’s website. However, she asserts that the lack of access to the art studio in Ontario Hall has made it difficult for some students to properly complete their work.

Without proper ventilation and studio space, many students can’t finish the installations that they have been working on all year. 

“You’re not supposed to use oil paint in your house, so it makes a virtual exhibition impossible,” she continued.

Despite these troubling setbacks, the BFA graduates are doing all they can to make do with the hand they’ve been dealt.

“People have been sending me works in progress and those are going onto the website as well so people can see the process,” Gordon said.  

Given that the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in class cancellations across Canada, the BFA grads aren’t alone in their experience.

That’s what makes them determined to finish the year off as planned—while following public health guidelines—all the more admirable.


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