How Sac State arts students are transitioning to online classes

Many struggle with virtual arts classes


Sac State Students Joyce Vang, Miguel Forbes and Taylor Hill perform the dance “Transfiguration” by Bernard Brown in Sacramento/ Black Art of Dance (S/BAD). S/BAD was the last Department of Theatre and Dance performance of the spring semester. Photo courtesy of Bernard Brown.

Piper Haitsuka, Dylan McNeill, and

Many Sacramento State arts students have reported difficulty transitioning from in-person to online classes due to California’s shelter-at-home order. 

Sac State senior Maia Pheng is working on getting her bachelor’s degree in art history with a focus in modern and contemporary art. 

“A lot of my classes are highly dependent on the visual (seeing high reproduction slides of artworks on a big screen is much different than seeing it on a tiny phone/laptop screen) and on conversation, which just is not the same over Zoom,” Pheng said via Instagram direct message. 

Pheng’s transition to online classes has been difficult because of the limited and expensive online books, but she said professors in the art department have been compassionate and understanding.

Since the closing of Sac State’s library on Mar. 16, Pheng said the students in her art history senior seminar are desperate to find resources to help them write their final B.A. thesis.

Dance professor Bernard Brown said that the shift to Zoom dance classes has been a challenge because live performances are an essential part of the class, but still remains enjoyable for the students.

“Our seniors, in both the theatre and dance programs, are, expectedly, quite disappointed about the inability to present their capstone projects this year, the capstone project is a highlight of their tenure as students at Sacramento State,” Brown said via email. 

According to Brown, some benefits of in-person dance classes are immediate feedback opportunities that the students can receive as well as being able to learn from observing their peers.

Through the current online classes, there has been more of an emphasis on writing about dancing than doing the movements themselves.

Sac State senior Ariel-Luna Recio is a design student majoring in photography. Her photography final will be a profile of her semester project uploaded digitally instead of printed out.

Recio’s original final portfolio included photographs of plants that she took at parks, but she has adapted the concept to add plants in her backyard. 

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Ariel-Luna Recio, a photography student at Sac State, takes pictures of plants and nature for her final portfolio. Photo by Ariel-Luna Recio

“We were not allowed to scrap our original proposal but more or (less) figure out a new solution to continue our projects,” Recio said via Instagram direct message. “A lot of us had to shift and find solutions to continue with the original concept of our projects.”

Recio said that by having virtual classes, she is not getting the full college experience that she could have with in-person classes, and misses her senior cohort and professors.

Another Sac State Senior, Ana Muntean, is a theatre major who has enjoyed her experience with her finals this semester. 

Despite the online transition, Muntean hasn’t had any issues taking her courses online and has been able finish her final projects.  

“For my senior production theatre class we recorded the play we were supposed to put up for this semester and turned it into an audio recording! Kind of like a radio show,” Muntean said.