Crafting during COVID-19
On a sunny afternoon, I walked into Fellows Garden. Arts and crafts materials were spread out across the field. People flocked over to the lawn for the fun crafting activity, in a means that was safe for COVID-19 of course.
This event was a Social Deis-Tance DIY event where people could create collage notebooks and buttons. The activity was put on by Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation Undergraduate Department Representatives, Aviva Davis ’21 and Anna Cass ’21. When asked about the reason behind putting on this event, Davis and Cass said that as UDRs, they have a role to create events like this and they had been planning throughout the summer. Davis said they decided on making notebook collages because “it’s something that’s easy to do,” and that “it provides us an open prompt for people to create.” Delving further into details about CAST, Davis explained that “for me, as an individual, the CAST department is for people who want to enact some form of social change using their art.” Cass added that in the CAST department, “you are refining the skills not just to make art for art’s sake, but to use art to change perspectives and … instigate empathy.” These themes of CAST were implemented into the event because students were able to use empowering phrases or create different symbols on their buttons and their collages.
When discussing the idea to have collage creating at the event, Cass touched on the idea that you use materials from different sources to create a collage: “when you think deeply about the concept of a collage, you are really manipulating the media that exists for your own purposes.” To fulfill this purpose, some collage materials included magazines that students could cut words and pictures out of and empowering words and quotes from people who have been involved in social justice movements, according to Davis. This idea of manipulating media allows students to use phrases and information that are out in the world to support and represent their own ideas.
Button making was another activity at this event. Cass explained that she was really passionate about button making because historically, buttons have been used to express and share one’s personal or political messages and beliefs. Throughout history, we have seen buttons used to reflect political ideas, such as LGBTQ+ rights, or to support a certain political candidate. This reflects how powerful and meaningful craftsmanship and art can be.
A final important aspect of the event was that it had to be in accordance with the University’s Health and Safety Measures. To follow these guidelines, this event took place in an outdoor setting, and required students to stay six feet apart with masks on as they worked on their projects. The event was also capped at 25 people. Davis emphasized the importance of making sure that the event was safe in the time of COVID-19 and followed the University's rules. “Everything that we do here impacts everybody else and so as community leaders, as leaders of this department it is very, very important that we are strictly adhering to the rules that the University has set in place,” Davis said.
This event was a fun way to let students express creativity while also trying to include things that students were passionate about in their art. This type of art allows people to express their most powerful ideas and messages, which, as Davis and Cass explained, is what the CAST department is all about. It is empowering to use one’s voice and for students to share what they believe. In the time of COVID-19 things can feel lonely, so it was great to see students out of their dorms and outside at an event with friends and other students.