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Canceled events, performances take a mental toll on IU artists



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A piece of art depicting a storefront in Tokyo, Japan by freshman Vika Terrill is pictured. Courtesy Photo

Following the statewide stay-at-home order, artists at IU reflected on the changes their art went through during that time.

Trevor Sell, a freshman contemporary dance student at IU, began dance classes more than a year and a half ago before auditioning in March for IU’s program. Once everything began to shut down in March, his studio went online and held Zoom meetings twice a week. 

Like many other high school seniors, Sell’s season unexpectedly came to an end due to the pandemic. 

“After the second week, my dance teacher notified me and the other three seniors that our dance season was over and that we were no longer having any rehearsals, and so that just kind of crushed me,” Sell said. 

Following the announcement, Sell said being out of the studio affected him both mentally and physically. 

“It really brought me down in all aspects, not just the aspect of I’m not able to be in the studio,” Sell said. “It was a big part of my life, or something that I had made a big part of my life, that was just taken away from me.”

Freshman Luke Swain said he felt similarly. Swain, an economics major,became involved with ceramics in high school before branching out to drawing last year. 

“The doom and gloom of everything happening kind of just sucked my drive to do anything,” Swain said. 

In the past, Swain said he would typically work on an art project on the side on top of what he was assigned to do during class, but stopped during the stay-at-home order. 

“I had all this time to actually get stuff done, but yet, I felt like it was almost impossible,” Swain said. 

Freshman Vika Terrill, however, took advantage of all of the extra time. Terrill is an exploratory student who also draws and paints in her free time. Terrill said she has been drawing nearly all of her life, and began branching out to painting last year when she had an abundance of paint supplies. 

“It gave me a lot of free time, so I was able to draw and paint a lot more, so it probably actually motivated me even more to just keep doing it,” Terrill said. 

The extra free time allowed Terrill to dedicate more time to improving her artwork, so she kept getting better throughout the stay-at-home order, Terrill said. 

“It was just something I could do and it was consistent, you know, everything else was kind of shut down and changing, but my art was the one consistent thing,” Terrill said. 

Following the stay-at-home order, both Sell and Swain were able to find notable differences in their artwork and what inspired them to create. Swain said he personally had a change in focus when it comes to art. 

“In the past, I was definitely more focused on things revolving aroundthe elements of art itself,” Swain said. “Now I’m just more I think interested in ideas and themes.”

Reflecting on the past few months, Sell said his flexibility noticeably decreased, but he is now able to channel all of his negative emotions from the canceled events into dance whereas he use to pull emotions from other experiences such as his sexuality, the community he was raised in and family situations. 

"Through quarantine, I think my body is, like I said, it's very tight," Sell said. "It's not as loose as it used to be and I kind of just embrace that tightness and it's no longer about getting my leg all the way up here and having the beautiful technique. It's about using the grunginess and the tightness to express a hard time that I think everyone experienced.”

As life returns to normal, Sell was able to find some positives. 

“The one thing I can confidently say is it gave me a lot of time to self-reflect and to take time for me and really get into the mindset of college because I hadn’t really thought about it a lot because I was constantly focused on school and dance,” Sell said. 

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