Sharing Art While Apart: Fisher Hall Gallery Goes Virtual


Rowan Mally and Max Chasin

As the quarantine prevents students from admiring the artistic works of their peers in the rotunda, the Visual Arts department not only transferred the adorned walls of Fisher Hall to students’ homes, but also expanded their creative capacity through a new online gallery.

Currently, the artwork featured on the gallery website includes artwork from Music Week, works made by Middle Division (MD) students, various films, and pottery made in ceramics. “It might be [organized by class] in the future, but for now it’s more open-ended,” Drawing and Painting teacher Kim Do said. “Since we no longer have access to the physical spaces, this is our best alternative for sharing students’ visions with the community.”

Visual Arts Department Chair Dr. Anna Hetherington said that the gallery received department-wide support. “A number of teachers immediately had the idea of showing online the work made by students,” she said. “So the idea for the HM Gallery website grew from that.” 

To Studio Manager Emily Lombardo, the gallery was very important, she said. “We programmed the [in school] gallery a year in advance and did not want to let that work go unseen.” 

Writer and director of the film Bad HM Tour Jaden Kirshner (11) said that the gallery was a new form of much-needed interaction with peers and classmates. Kirshner’s film featured a peculiar prospective family seeking a tour of the school, which provided both mysterious and comedic aspects to the film.

Bad HM Tour was “hilarious,” filmmaking teacher Jordan Rathus said. While the film was shot prior to the school’s closure, it provides critical comic relief during difficult circumstances, she said.

“The online HM art gallery is another great way through which the HM community is staying connected,” Kirshner said. “It’s always great seeing what your fellow peers have been making, especially during this quarantine era.” 

The gallery is able to truly immerse students in the work of their peers, Lombardo said. “The virtual gallery tour lets students enter a gallery, see the work together in a virtual space, and click on each piece for a closer look.”

The new gallery provides a creative outlet to students during recently difficult times, Hetherington said. “We would like for others to have a place where their creative output can be displayed and to encourage people to remember that even in this wild time, they are making, creating, putting amazing things out into the world,” she said.

The ability to share artwork with her peers reminded Elena Zhu (7) that she is not alone and gave her hope, she said. Zhu is one of the many middle schoolers who participated in the MD online gallery that documented their lives during these difficult times, sharing her drawing “6 Things I Did In Quarantine.” 

There are creative advantages to the new online format, and Hetherington said she hopes that students will be further encouraged to showcase their art. “[The artwork] can be something humble or super ambitious,” she said. “One of the advantages to an online platform is that there is no space limitation and everyone can be represented.” 

The online gallery encouraged Zhu to expand her artistic perspective, she said. “As for what inspired me, I would say trying something new,” she said. “I had never drawn a comic or anything of the sort before, and I figured I would try it out.” Zhu hopes that her piece and the work of her peers can show each other that they are going through the same thing, she said.

Spencer Kahn (12), who acted in the film Bad HM Tour, said the HM online gallery seemed to be a natural step in light of the school’s transfer to online education. “Given the current circumstances, moving HM Gallery online makes perfect sense,” he said. “I wasn’t very surprised to hear that it happened.” 

Even after school reopens, the virtual gallery will maintain a permanent presence, Hetherington said. “We have been planning to create an HM Gallery website for years, so it’s very fortuitous that we now have the platform and the beginnings of one,” she said. “We will certainly keep it going.”  

The HM online gallery is still accepting art submissions. “Are you creating art while in quarantine? Baking beautiful bread? Getting really great at needlepoint? If so, the HM community would love to see what you are working on,” Lombardo wrote in an email to the school. “We have created an HM Gallery website and would love to see you represented.”