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Jun 24, 2020 04:09 PM EDT

SCAD Teaches Students to Embrace Change With Gusto


SCAD Teaches Students to Embrace Change With Gusto

(Photo : SCAD Teaches Students to Embrace Change With Gusto)

The human spirit shines brightest in the shadow of uncertainty, the evidence of which we see every day during this pivotal moment in history. Positivity is often rooted in our quest for silver linings, an oh-so-human proclivity expressed with a phrase that has become as ubiquitous during the COVID-19 pandemic as "social distancing" and "work from home": this time is an opportunity to "hit the reset button."

Whether the fabric of our daily lives or the threads of the fashion industry, the desire for a reset is as universal as it is understandable during this time. Some experts opine the need to "reset the buttons" on fashion deliveries and the seasonal calendar. In the Times, pundits ponder "a radical reset" of couture venues, from physical to virtual showrooms, for example. These are powerful ideas, indeed, yet SCAD located in Savannah, Georgia has expressed bolder enthusiasm, trading the reset button for the launch pad and venturing somewhere entirely new with students. It's called Guests and Gusto, and I'm a fan.

Guests and Gusto is SCAD's new Zoom series, featuring fresh, exclusive content representing all of SCAD's 40-plus top-ranked degree programs through illuminating conversations and surprise drop-ins. In that spirit, Guests and Gusto reflects what SCAD has done during this most historic-and most unexpected-quarter: launched something completely unique. We've done so with a strategy that blends creativity, technology, and agility. It's a strategy our esteemed guests know well and continue to share with our students-here are three of my takeaways from Guests and Gusto that meet the moment.

Curate Your Creativity

Now more than ever, creative organizations and brands are successful organizations and brands. Why? Because they recognize the tenor of the moment. Creativity thrives in times like these, when distraction and excess fall away, and the soul ponders the artistic elements at the heart of the human condition. As Juliet Blake recently told SCAD students, "This is a curatorial time in your life. As an artist, think about what you want to contribute-now is the time to add texture to projects that have been delayed."

That notion of texture resonates. It is reminiscent of the work of SCAD alumna Kim Dunham, who intricately crafts her clients' life stories on custom-made signet rings-a biography you wear! While Kim has made rings for years, her artistry shimmer even more in this moment: she has taken elements that are so intimate and personal and merged them, forging something completely unexpected and precious. Follow her example and do the same.

Tap Into Tech

When the pandemic arrived full-force and the country began shutting down, SCAD seems to have approached the challenge as a big adventure. In addition to Guests and Gusto, the university debuted Project V-Lab, a pilot program that gives motion media design students offsite access-through a secure server-to onsite, top-tier computers and high-end software at SCAD.

As social media maven and mixed-media artist Ashley Longshore told SCAD students, it's imperative to "build thought friendships," the engines for "really big collaborations." Those thought friendships-the networks that amplify creativity with technical knowhow and social-media savvy-that's where art will thrive.

Enable Your Agility

Every night, during the pandemic press conferences that have become an end-of-day staple, America tunes in to hear the latest-and to see Dr. Deborah Birx's scarf. Her accessory choices captivate the country, so much so that people have started making bobblehead dolls in her honor and creating Instagram accounts dedicated to her favorite accoutrement. If creativity is the recognition of a moment, agility is the actualization thereof-the people smart enough to quickly make dolls and create Insta accounts and, of course, market scarves!

And yet, there's a far more serious upside to agility-the opportunity to fill societal needs. From artful masks that designers sew for first responders to custom-built face shields SCAD has donated to doctors, the art-and-design world's resourcefulness and responsiveness is on full display. As renown art critic Jerry Saltz told SCAD students, "you were built to go through these hard times." That message holds true for everyone in the fashion industry, and for all of us in creative professions.

And yet, these times will pass. Perhaps a big retail boom awaits us on the other side. Maybe post-pandemic shopping becomes the diversion of choice, when America can finally leave its homes with confidence and assurance. Whatever the horizon holds, it will be another transition. So, while you embrace this moment, be cognizant of the next. Like students and educators at SCAD, ask yourself what creative inspirations you desire and what marketing tools you need to learn. Ask yourself if you're prepared to be nimble. Then, ask these questions of those closest to you, and start forming a plan for what's next. 

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