University students all over the world are finding ways to overcome difficulties the pandemic has brought in their studies, extra-curricular activities, and social life. As for students at Boston University, a private research university in Boston, Massachusetts, they have been continuing their artistic activities in the face of COVID-19.
In search of more detail, Ewha Voice consulted the following two articles published by the Daily Free Press, the independent student newspaper at Boston University: “BU seniors create independent short film ‘Wonderland’ on art, burnout, or mental illness” and “BUild Lab connects pandemic and art.”
How students are engaging in art amid COVID-19: Film production and mask art project
In February, the Daily Free Press covered how seniors from the College of Communications cooperated and created a short film called “Wonderland” this winter. The article explains that in reference to “Alice in Wonderland,” the classic Walt Disney animated film, the main character of “Wonderland” is Alice.
In the film, Alice is a self-critical artist who had been painting the White Rabbit for an exhibition. The story revolves around a therapist session Alice is forced to attend, with flashbacks and hallucinations cas if it were a glitch in her reality.
The film was written and directed by Dilara Avgen, a senior in the College of Communications. The film deals with mental illness, self-doubt, burnout, and art, all of which are themes that Avgen hopes “can strike a chord with the audience.”
She revealed that Vincent Van Gogh inspired her, particularly his story about wanting to become a great artist despite his struggles with mental illness. This led Avgen into creating a story that tells people that they are special regardless of feelings like burnout or uselessness.
One year ago, the film was initially assigned in her production class to be developed into a final project after spring break. However, continuing the project at that time was impossible because Avgen and her group members were staying home due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Even though the class ended, Avgen and her group members were “not ready to abandon the project,” so “the group chose to make the project their own and produce ‘Wonderland’ by themselves.” With the exception of actress Kimberley Fogelgren, who played Dr. Kim, all participants were students at Boston University. The crew was mainly composed of seniors of the College of Communication, while the cast was made up of students from the College of Fine Arts.
According to Mallika Walavalker, head producer and senior in the College of Communications, the group “was able to independently employ all the skills that [they’ve] been taught.” For example, Wonderland’s $5,000 campaign had been launched thanks to the skills Walavalker had acquired in a crowdfunding class. As for Avgen, she was able to write a good story by using the basics of storytelling from courses she had taken at school. Therefore, Avgen believes that to the group, the film was a project “that tested their skills, but solidified their artistic journey forward.”
Boston University and its students engaged in art in 2020 as well when COVID-19 made wearing face masks mandatory. Last September, The Daily Free Press reported on a project called “Masking Emotions” that was hosted by BUild Lab, Boston University’s capital student innovation center. “Masking Emotions” was a creative art project open to the Boston University community to “create a work of art that symbolizes an idea relating to the last five months, with one catch — the final product must be in the shape of a mask.”
The article introduced Ellen Miller, a participant in the project and a junior in the School of Law, whose mask was a hand-drawn self-portrait depicting her seated in front of her computer screen. She indicated the computer screen as the focus of the work, intending to show that our lives are currently conducted online.
According to one of the founders of the project, the assistant director of operations Lisa Lavina, “Masking Emotions” was “a way for the BU community to personalize their stories through the universal symbol of mask.”