Innovating in the Arts: How APU’s Online Art Degree and Theater Arts Programs Are Connecting Virtually

by Ashley Eneriz

The pandemic has drastically changed many aspects of life, but creative instincts paired with modern technology have given rise to new ways of experiencing the arts. Indeed, the arts have largely continued to thrive throughout this season, helping people to connect, heal, and be inspired.

Likewise, for those hoping to work toward an online art degree, this can be a period of adaptation and reinvention.

“The pandemic has nudged the art world into innovative ways of connecting the art and the viewer,” noted William Catling, MFA, chair and professor in the Department of Art at Azusa Pacific University. Catling noted that virtual exhibitions and other online art forums have become much more prevalent in recent months.

For the first time ever, everyone with internet access is able to tour the Louvre, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago on the same afternoon. The same is also true for patrons of theatrical and musical arts; opportunities to experience, produce, and share art in new ways continue to expand.

The Arts Are More Important Than Ever

Catling explained that art is—and has always been—an essential aspect of human culture. “Creative expressions both mirror our cultural contexts and seek to inform them with the truth as we know it,” he said. An artist doesn’t just create a beautiful piece of artwork; they synthesize their culture, influences, history, and beliefs into their work to touch and speak to viewers in a way that words can’t.

“Our God introduces himself in Genesis as The Creator,” Catling noted. “It is our privilege to reflect the creative nature of God in our work as artists and as teachers.”

Jill Brennan-Lincoln, M.A., chair and professor in APU’s Department of Theater Arts, shares a similar viewpoint for theatrical arts. She said that even in difficult times, stories bring people together.

“Stories help us live in the moment as well as examine the past and look to the future,” Brennan-Lincoln explained. “It does not matter if they are with new technology and trends, God created this communication for us to examine the human condition together.”

Online Art Degrees Are Adapting to New Times

Earning an online degree in the arts during the pandemic may look a little different from what you anticipated from art school. However, the programs in the arts typically offered face-to-face at APU have each been updated to maintain the integrity of the program while benefiting all students—now and in the future.

Additionally, APU has several established online art degree programs that have always been offered in remote-learning formats.

Remote learning allows both undergraduate art students and graduate art students to adapt and extend their artistic expertise.

“As artists and teachers, we are resilient and are finding creative ways to promote learning in the visual arts,” Catling said. “We are increasing our one-on-one virtual interactions, promoting strong mentorship for our students.” He also noted that APU’s art program is bringing industry professionals into the virtual classroom to deepen students’ connections with the professional art world.

Online Theater Degrees Feature Virtual Performances

Due to the pandemic, APU’s Theater Arts program was able to create one of the first BFA Online Industry Showcases in the country. Brennan-Lincoln explained that the school’s degrees are designed to remain current and relevant because adaptability is important for artists seeking a career in acting, directing, writing, or design.

“We are preparing for a season of productions that include virtual performances and theatrical performances using cutting-edge projections that will be available on video for demand,” noted Brennan-Lincoln. “Our classes continue to focus on laying the foundations of technique while diving into progressive approaches.”

Preparing You as an Artist for Any Kind of World

Visual and performance arts will always be essential. However, the way people enjoy the arts will continually evolve. APU’s online art degrees stress the importance of art history and technical foundations, while also preparing artists for new technology and forward-thinking career advancements. It’s this careful balance that helps prepare students to make their marks in the art world and grow as creatives.

Are you ready to change the world with your art? Explore Azusa Pacific University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts to find out which online art degree complements your unique vision.