Online Graduation Season of CAFA | Online “Visualized” Practices: Graduation Projects by 31 Undergraduates from the School of Arts Administration and Education

TIME: 2020.6.24

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Editor’s note: On May 20th, CAFA Online Graduation Season was officially launched. Within the first 24 hours, online browsing exceeded 2.13 million and the number of individual visitors reached 530,000. Up until now, the online browsing has exceeded 2.46 million with 620,000 independent visitors from 115 countries around the world. This graduation exhibition has attracted global participation and attention.

Offline exhibitions can collect feedback from the audience as soon as they visit, and they can accurately receive information from the art market and then become a stage for exchange and learning between students ... In comparison, we know very little about the online graduation exhibition. How do teachers from CAFA look at this new form of graduation exhibition? How do they guide students to create? What challenges did they encounter? CAFA ART INFO interviewed Zhou Qing, Associate Professor from the Fundamental Teaching Department of Undergraduates, School of Arts Administration and Education, CAFA. Starting from the topics of undergraduate graduation creations by the first class of School of Arts Administration and Education, online guidance and thesis presentations, she focused her discussions on the undergraduate teaching in the School of Arts Administration and Education.

Interviewee | Zhou Qing (Associate Professor, School of Arts Administration and Education, CAFA)

Interviewer丨Lin Lu/CAFA ART INFO

Interview time丨May 15th & May 25th, 2020

Images丨Courtesy of Zhou Qing

Translated and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

CAFA ART INFO: Hello Professor Zhou, the CAFA Degree Show 2020 has undergone major changes with the spread of the pandemic this year, so we have paid attention to the topics related to students’ graduation creations. Since its establishment in 2015, the School of Arts Management and Education has ushered in the first graduation season for undergraduates this year. So can you talk about the featured form and content in the degree show by the first class of undergraduates from the School of Arts Administration and Education?

Zhou Qing: In 2020, we have the first class of undergraduates who will graduate from the School of Arts Administration and Education since its establishment in 2015. We originally planned to organize some activities during the graduation season to fully show the teaching achievements and graduation creations of our school over the past four years. But the sudden outbreak of the epidemic forced us to change the plan and it also had a certain impact on the students’ mental health. Under the concern and guidance from CAFA and teachers, our students quickly adjusted, and their progress seemed to be pretty good. The School of Arts Management and Education currently have two professional directions for undergraduates: Arts Management and Art History. Students can choose their thesis direction independently. Students graduating under the direction of the Art History major are required to complete an academic thesis of not less than 10,000 words. Students graduating from the direction of Arts Management major are required to complete a thesis of not less than 5,000 words and a practical project, and the thesis must be associated with the project. Undergraduates are required to enter the studios through a bilateral selection process in their junior year. There are currently four studios, namely the Art Museum Management Studio, Art Exhibition Planning Management Studio, Art Business Management Studio, Art Media and Publication Studio. Students choose their thesis directions and practical projects related to their studios for graduation creation.

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The curatorial project presented by the virtual laboratory of the CAFA Art Museum

CAFA ART INFO: The professional training of the School of Arts Management and Education attaches great importance to the teaching concept of combining practice with theory. What impact does this pandemic have on graduation creations? Please tell us about the creation status of the graduating class.

Zhou Qing: To a certain extent, it has a greater impact on this part of the practical project. For example, the Art Exhibition Planning and Management studio originally planned an exhibition project, but it could not be realized because of the pandemic situation. It has been changed to a virtual exhibition hall built by the virtual laboratory of CAFA Art Museum. The School attaches great importance to the graduation creations show. After discussions, it has formulated detailed and standardized requirements and procedures, and strives to show the professional characteristics and academic framework and dimensions of our school’s undergraduate teaching through the graduation creations by graduates. Our students have repeatedly discussed with their tutors about graduation creation topics and projects. From their respective perspectives, they integrate the content of their four-year undergraduate theoretical study and project practice, which reflects the integration of professionalism and practicality. For example, in the Art Exhibition Planning and Management Studio I am responsible for, there are four students who chose the direction of art history and their thesis topics are all related to exhibition and curatorial research; another 4 students chose the direction of arts management, they have to complete a virtual exhibition project, including a preliminary research curatorial article related to the project and a specific curatorial plan, which are finally presented through the virtual viewing room. There are 31 students in the first class of undergraduates who major in arts management. Except one studio that has 7 students, each of the other three studios has 8 students. The graduation creations of the graduating class are closely linked to their respective professional directions and they show comprehensively the results of the students’ professional research and practical operation.

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Screenshots of the Virtual Exhibition Project of Art Exhibition Planning and Management Studio

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Graduation Creation Guidance and Degree Show Design Sketch of the Art Exhibition Planning and Management Studio

CAFA ART INFO: From the graduation creation status of students, we can see the impact of the pandemic on them, so how do you think of the influences that the new form of graduation exhibition will affect students? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the online exhibitions for the undergraduate studios of the School of Arts Management and Education?

Zhou Qing: As I mentioned earlier, this time when the epidemic occurred, the students initially had a certain degree of emotional fluctuations. After adjustments, everyone regained their confidence and became more active in graduation creations. For example, students who choose the direction of art management, they were doing virtual curatorial projects, and the newly established virtual laboratory of CAFA Art Museum happened to provide an operating platform for them. The students complete their curatorial projects through the virtual exhibition space on the platform with their exhibition design and presentation. During this process, they encountered a lot of practical problems and difficulties. This is a good opportunity for them to practice. For example, when performing virtual exhibitions, how to grasp the angle, position, lighting, etc. of each piece of work, how to design moving lines according to space, points, etc., although there are some regrets due to the technical reasons of hardware but this is indeed a creative experience. At the same time, from another aspect, this class of students is the first group of practitioners in the laboratory. Their practical exercises also provided valuable first-hand experimental data for the laboratory, which is conducive to the future construction and development of the laboratory. It is also the contribution of the students. The most notable feature of this year’s graduates is that everyone loves their majors and they are so passionate and committed to graduation creations.

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Graduation Creation Guidance and Degree Show Design Sketch of Art Media and Publication Studio

08 Graduation Creation Guidance and Degree Show Design Sketch of Art Museum Management Studio .jpgGraduation Creation Guidance and Degree Show Design Sketch of Art Museum Management Studio

CAFA ART INFO: We know that COVID-19 has also changed the teaching modes of teachers. What are the challenges when it comes to your teaching work?

Zhou Qing: After the outbreak, the School organized teachers to hold several meetings to discuss how to carry out online teaching. The online class is a challenge for teachers and all teachers have spent a lot of energy in preparing. First of all, we pay more attention to the compilation of coursework. On the basis of comprehensive use of presentations and video materials, a lot of online materials are added to the coursework. The second is that after all, online courses are different from face-to-face courses. How to improve the vitality of teaching and enhance the initiative of students to listen is the key. Our teachers designed some new processes during the class, for example, with the help of the characteristics of the online class software, set up real-time questions and comments in the classroom, combined with professional role-playing and scenario drills, etc., and we strive to use multiple methods to achieve better effects from both teaching and learning. 

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Screenshot on the Afternoon of 2020-05-26

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CAFA ART INFO: In 2020, CAFA has launched the “online” virtual exhibition hall of CAFA Art Museum for the first time. What do you think of the future development of this new form of graduation exhibition?

Zhou Qing: The “Online CAFA” virtual degree show is now the hottest and most sensitive topic. During the pandemic, everyone becomes more aware of the importance of online exhibitions. Now both for-profit and non-profit art institutions are using online exhibitions. Online exhibitions seem to have become an inevitable trend. It is undoubtedly one of the most important categories of exhibitions in the future, as it involves so many aspects including planning, operation, exhibition, publicity, education and technology, law and even ethics, etc. which are worth studying and discussing. In the coming 5G era, how to apply new technologies to future teaching is a subject worth studying. But now information becomes so rich and diversified, the channels for obtaining it are so wide and its updating speed becomes so fast, the phenomenon of knowledge fragmentation in the internet is becoming more and more serious, so we should also be alert to the fragmentation in teaching in the high-speed information age. How to face research and the teaching of art management in the 5G era is a question that needs to be further considered.

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Online Evaluation of Graduation Theses

CAFA ART INFO: What wish and blessings do you have for the first class of graduates from the School of Arts Management and Education during the graduation season?

Zhou Qing: I hope that our students will maintain their original aspiration, professional enthusiasm and “plan and manage” their own lives after they graduate from CAFA! Happy Graduation!

Zhou Qing

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Associate Professor of the School of Arts Management and Education at China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Director of the Undergraduate Fundamental Teaching Department, Host of the “Exhibition Planning and Management” studio and Postgraduate Tutor. She graduated from the Department of Art History, CAFA with a master’s degree and has stayed on as a teacher. She used to be a visiting scholar at McGill University in Canada, working at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France. She mainly teaches courses such as Exhibition History and Theory, Curation Theory and Strategy, Exhibition Planning Practice, Western Art History and so on.