Art persists part I: getting creative

“Art persists” is a three-part series highlighting the challenges and successes of Simmons art students since going remote.

Isabelle Indelicato, Staff Writer

Since classes have moved online, students in art classes have been creative about their content, but also have had to become creative about execution, and work to let go of their expectations. 

For her final project in her Documentary Photography class, Frances Cava Humphry, a senior arts administration and art History double major, said she started planning her final project at the beginning of the semester.

Cava Humphrey says she wanted to focus on her life in Boston, as previous projects focused on a variety of aspects of her identity, including her family in the Philippines and various places that she says, “shaped who I was.”

“I wanted to focus on how Boston shaped who I was. The spaces and people that made me feel like Boston was home,” said Humphrey.

Frances Cava Humphrey’s notes on her concept for her final project for Documentary Photography. “I’m trying to capture the relationships and spaces I’ve made in Boston that feel like home before I graduate and leave. Most of my prints are portraits but I also have film of smaller gestures and random spaces/moments where I feel at home in this city.
Last year I did a project about my family because I was feeling really sad and homesick. This is like that but with my chosen family because I’m scared of feeling homesick for this place once I leave.”

As the severity of the pandemic set in, Cava Humphry left her Boston apartment for her family home in Dallas, where she says she is using art supplies from her sister and aunt, who are both artists. 

Cava Humphrey’s art basket she shares with her aunt and sister.

Although the concept of her final project is still “up in the air,” Cava Humphrey told the Voice that the focus of her project is shifting towards the privilege she feels being able to stay be at home in juxtaposition to the experiences of her family in the Philippines, as well as the country as a whole.

Cava Humphrey says that her final project is, “a continuation of projects I’ve made before in my photo classes,” in regards to her identity and experiences. “In Boston I was about to reach a point in my identity where I’m able to exist in a certain way, and it’s different coming home.”

By gathering photos, exploring interior spaces, incorporating written text and screenshots of text messages, Cava Humphrey said she’s able to think about how her life has changed since returning to Dallas, and said that her photo professor, Edie Bresler, is letting their students be creative and flexible with their work. 

Cava Humphrey’s workspace in her family’s Dallas home.

The creative freedom that Bresler has granted their students was echoed by junior psychology and art double major, Steffi Gaehde, who is in The Poetry of Photography.

Gaehde explained how the class promotes creative freedom, while still encompassing the concepts of the assignments. 

“It allowed me to do what was asked of me, while also being able to creatively push past limitations,” said Gaehde.

Gaehde explored the concept of ‘intentional disruption of a frame,’ by tying a piece of their oven to a string.

Bresler, who is teaching three photography classes this semester, said that the work has become student driven, and has made time to connect with their 10 advisees and 36 students to figure out ways to make the class work for them, and continue promoting creativity.

Click here for part II: relationships and equity and part III: growth as artists.