For Zoe Yaceczko ’20, sustainability and accessibility are important facets of art. When curating her senior art show—the culmination of her work as an art major—she wanted to ensure that her exhibit would adhere to those concepts as much as possible.
Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 halted the progress of Yaceczko’s show and she was forced to cancel an in-person presentation. In order to adapt, the Oglethorpe senior learned a new program, ArtSteps, which allows users to design virtual art galleries in lifelike 3D spaces that can be explored by viewers.
The online exhibit addresses the entirety of Yaceczko’s work since her first day at Oglethorpe, plus photos from life at home during the pandemic, the last weeks of her senior semester. Standing at 71 pieces, the show is a testament to her growth as an artist.
“Taking the option to create a virtual exhibition as her final project was already a leap in terms of time and difficulty. She increased that challenge exponentially by choosing to exhibit all of the best of her own works of art from her years at Oglethorpe,” says Elizabeth Peterson, director of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, where Yaceczko works on campus. It was in the context of Peterson’s Museum Studies class that Yaceczko designed and created her online exhibition in ArtSteps.
Though her senior exhibit moved online, Yaceczko notes that accessibility and sustainability, both personally important to her, remained key considerations during development.
At senior art shows in years past, she had observed how much plastic waste was generated during food service. Single-use, disposable utensils made for easy clean-up, but ultimately contributed to environmental pollution. Her in-person show would have provided silverware and reusable cups and she had hoped to encourage local sourcing for food and drink.
“Taking steps towards environmental issues seems daunting, and everyone thinks it has to be this big life-changing occurrence that happens in a day. Like most things, however, it starts small,” says Yaceczko.
Though a virtual show eliminates the issue of waste, considerations for accessibility could still be made when designing the virtual space. She had planned to hold her senior exhibit in the Turner Lynch Campus Center, making use of the ADA-compliant building to provide equal access to attendees. Through ArtSteps, Yaceczko made sure to utilize the program’s features to provide a similar level of accessibility. Digital labels describing the art can be increased and decreased in size. Wall text is large and clear. Alternative text for images can be utilized by screen readers.
Despite the challenging conclusion to her senior year, Yaceczko found a way to make the most of her situation and remains positive as she looks ahead.
“I learned so many new things in this college journey, and I’ll continue learning more. This is just the beginning.”
Take a look at Zoe Yaceczko’s senior exhibit here.