Sarah Lawrence Together:
Creating New Ways to Connect

Sarah Lawrence Together

"I have been so heartened—but not at all surprised—by the many new and inspiring ways faculty and students have developed to continue their work together while apart." –Cristle Collins Judd, President

After spring break, Sarah Lawrence students and faculty resumed spring semester classes remotely to help address the spread of COVID-19. At every step during this unprecedented time, the SLC community has responded with the creativity, intelligence, and nimble thinking that are hallmarks of the College. Courses were reimagined for distance learning, lessons and ideas approached and exchanged through new lenses, and, collectively, day in and day out students and faculty are proving that distance is no match for their close relationship. In the midst of this global pandemic, though we are apart, we are very much #SarahLawrenceTogether.

The Work We're Doing

Below is a glimpse at what we've been doing during our remote spring semester. We'll be adding to this site frequently, so check back often!

Open Studios

Open Studios is a much anticipated event each year at the end of the spring semester. Typically, student work from various disciplines within the visual and studio arts is displayed in every corner inside—and outside—the Heimbold Visual Arts Center. This year, Open Studios went virtual, with the work of our very talented students displayed on the Visual and Studio Arts Remote Learning site.

Virtual Voice Lesson

What does a voice student's music lesson look—and sound—like via Zoom? Beautiful! In this recorded lesson, Katy Snair '22 sings "Oh my dearest, from my heart I swear it" from Offenbach's opera La Perichole and receives feedback from music faculty member Mary Phillips.

DanceFilm Festival

The fifth annual Sarah Lawrence College DanceFilm Festival was streamed online in late April. The festival featured work from before and during the pandemic-induced quarantine created by students, faculty, and alumni.

Turning the Kitchen into a Lab

Bread-baking has been everywhere during quarantine—including an SLC student's conference project! Madison Rosandich ‘20, a student in biology faculty member Michelle Hersh's Microbiology class, designed a conference project about baking sourdough bread. She used different types of flour to determine which led to the fastest change in pH and the most “sour” tasting bread (in theory via changes to the microbial community structure in the starter). The project is a perfect—and delicious!—example of our students' creativity, and how sometimes your own kitchen can serve as a lab. Check out the timelapse video Madison made to accompany her paper above!

A Conversation with the "Original Six"

Film history faculty member Sally Shafto opened a session of her seminar Women Make Movies, or Why Gender Representation Really Matters Behind and in Front of the Camera to alumni and friends in early May for a special panel discussion. Students talked with trailblazing members of the “Original Six” Nell Cox and Lynne Littman '62 and industry pioneers Sanaa Hamri '96 and Jenni Konner '94. The “Original Six” are a group of women directors who spoke out against gender discrimination in Hollywood in 1979 and formed the Women’s Steering Committee, a branch of the Director’s Guild of America.

The Perks of Being an SLC Student

Rona Mark, a faculty member in our undergraduate filmmaking & moving Image arts program and our graduate writing program, shares this screenshot of students from her filmmaking classes engaging in a Q&A with author and director Stephen Chbosky. The director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the soon-to-be-filmed Dear Evan Hansen discussed his work and experiences in the film industry.

Concept Art: The Medea Project

Filmmaking & moving image arts faculty member Scott Duce shares: "This is a digital portfolio of characters based on Medea from David Bann’s novel, Bright Air Black. Each student in the class designed an original character for the main protagonist, Medea. The portfolio is one part of a group of digitally designed concepts for the course, Concept Art: The Medea Project. These designs were begun on campus in early 2020 and completed through online class and individual remote meetings this spring. Congratulations to all the students of this incredibly hardworking and talented class."

Marshall Field in Remote

Music faculty members Bari Mort and Paul Kerekes put together this music video showcasing the beautiful work of students in the music program during our remote learning period.

Science Showcase

Biology faculty member Cecilia Toro shares: “At the end of each semester, most SciMath students present their conference work in class and many also create posters for our lively Science Symposium. This semester both of those presentation formats are difficult to replicate. Other SciMath faculty and I therefore decided to try something new, and asked students to create short summaries of their conference work to be presented in a blog format. We were very lucky that there was a preexisting website of which we could take advantage: students Dahlia McGrath ‘21 and Brooke Remsen ‘20 had created a blog, named Lambda, which they were planning to launch in the future. They graciously allowed us to take over this student-run publication during these unusual times. We have been populating Lambda with student posts from a number of Science and Mathematics courses. Many of these creative presentations make full use of the website format to include links to outside sources, from primary literature to YouTube videos to videos showcasing their novel inventions. We are excited to share this impressive work with the Sarah Lawrence community.”

Pandemic Portfolio

Students in art history faculty member Joseph Forte’s class, Lift Up Your Hearts: Art and Architecture of the Baroque—Europe and Its Colonies, 1550–1700, were slated to have an exam on April 17. But since, in Joe’s words, “things are a bit different now,” he came up with an alternative: the Pandemic Portfolio. Students had the option to submit a portfolio containing the following:

  • A Still Life in the Dutch Manner of how we live today
  • A landscape or interior that captures the present moment
  • An emblem that deals with a theme
  • A portrait in the style of Rembrandt
  • Four images and a page on each explaining how they reflect the Dutch style and the present moment

Here are some of the submissions.

A Story is Not A Tree: New Genres

A Story is Not a Tree is a blog that covers the visual arts courses that fall under the umbrella of "New Genres," such as Art from Code, Level Design, Drawing Machines, and Radical Game Design. Dating back to 2014, the site's most recent posts from March 2020 document the work students and faculty created together during our remote learning period. Faculty member Angela Ferraiolo shares that the site's name "references a quote from the architect Christopher Alexander, who famously observed that 'a city is not a tree,' meaning that information and interaction in a city follows many interconnected channels and is not necessarily top down or organized in conventional ways. New Genres at Sarah Lawrence pursues the idea that the unexpected connections between ideas and events is a place of discovery for artists."

Students & Librarians Team Up on Wikipedia

Over the course of the Spring semester, SLC Librarians worked closely with art history faculty member Sarah Hamill's Histories of Modern and Contemporary Art course on a Wikipedia assignment. Students were asked to hone their research, citation, and synthesis skills to create a Wikipedia article for an artist underrepresented both in academia and more largely on the Internet. When SLC switched to remote learning, three intrepid students continued with the assignment, became first-time Wikipedia editors, and created the following articles:

With our librarians' help, students were challenged to find and evaluate sources, understand issues relating to copyright and barriers to information access, and explore the impact of representation gaps on Wikipedia as well as in academic sources. Ultimately, their work provides a foundation upon which the wider world may discover these artists and their work.

Narrative Audio Journalism

Seniors in writing faculty member Ann Heppermann's Narrative Journalism in the Age of S-Town and other Serialized Podcasts class have shared their senior projects on Soundcloud:

CURB Keeps Their Good Work Flowing

Eli Caref, director of education at SLC’s Center for the Urban River at Beczak, shares this update from the banks of the Hudson River:

“We’ve been working with our field course student, Emily Pressley ’20, on creating remote resources for teachers and parents in our network. Emily, our environmental educator/science coordinator Katie Lamboy, and I do a weekly Zoom call and then each take on a task for the week. Since we began, we have been able to disseminate a wide variety of lessons: from an at-home experiment on freezing water to a research activity based on historic data from CURB, as well as a series of worksheets complete with answer keys for teachers and a vocabulary list, all based on this video, which showcases our interactive Hudson River Estuary model. Currently we are working on an interactive game and activity based on our in-person Hudson River food web lesson.

In addition, I’ve been working remotely with teachers from the IB Biology program at Yonkers High School to help their students conduct research projects on the Hudson River using historic data from CURB, the HRECOS network, and Riverkeeper/NYC Water Trail Association bacterial data. Katie has been working with Bronxville High School students on a river health project, and in honor of Earth Day we partnered with Mercy College on a remote professional development session.

We can’t wait to get back in the field but in the meantime, we will continue to build out our virtual resources so we can reach as many intrepid ecologists as we can!”

Connecting with Career Services

The Office of Career Services continues to offer robust services, programs, and resources to students. From virtual summer internships to online networking events with alumni and industry experts, students have access to a wide array of professional development opportunities and career advice.

Faculty Roundtable on the Coronavirus Pandemic

On April 27, Sarah Lawrence faculty held a roundtable discussion focused on different aspects of the Pandemic Crash of 2020. The faculty talks focus on a wide range of topics, ranging from psychology and domestic inequality to political economy and global refugee flows.

A Poem a Day

On March 22, writing faculty member Victoria Redel set out to do a live reading/mini poetry lesson on Instagram for seven days. Aimed at her friends with no real background in poetry, the daily videos were so well-received the series is going strong 40+ days later.

Love from Gryphons Everywhere

Student Senate recently created and shared this video on social media as a message of love and support to the entire Sarah Lawrence community. 

Gryphon Story Time

President Judd joined the fun as part of the Child Development Institute's ongoing social media series, Gryphon Storytime. Here, she reads one of her daughters' favorite books from childhood: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Dance Program Showcases Performances Online

"The recent period of remote instruction has been a time for the Dance Program to invoke our creativity in improvising through the unknown that lies ahead," says John Jasperse '85, director of the Dance program. "As we all do that together as a community, I wanted to share some of the works that have been generated by students over recent weeks. In particular I wanted to celebrate the tremendous work of the MFA Thesis candidates, who were required to transform research originally intended to culminate in live performances to become projects that could be delivered in an online environment."

A Recipe for Success

The Women’s History graduate program launched a new video series, The Surviving Scarcity Cooking Show, in which speakers (and cooks) draw on the history of the Great Depression, World War II, and other challenging economic moments in world history to analyze how [mostly] women managed scarce resources in order to feed their families.

The inaugural lecture featured guest speaker Dr. Lisa Ossian (DesMoines Area Community College), who discussed her book The Depression Dilemmas of Rural Iowa, 1929-1933.  Women’s History program director (and self-professed mediocre cook) Dr. Mary Dillard cooked the first recipe: chocolate mayonnaise cake.

Filmmaking Goes Global

Sarah Lawrence is a global community, as evidenced clearly by Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts faculty member Heather Winters' Art and Craft of Development and Pitching for Film and TV class. This photo from a recent class session featured alumnus Frederic Richter '10 and students from New York, Miami Beach, Connecticut, Chicago, Rio, South Korea, Mississippi, California, Baltimore, and South Carolina!

Filmmaking & Moving Image Arts

Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts faculty member Brian Emery shares: “Students in my Art of Editing: Post-Production class have been able to continue their work remotely using a combination of DaVinci Resolve (cross-platform and free editing software), the video collaboration platform (which we had been using already), and Zoom (to meet synchronously as a group and for conferences). has allowed students to provide invaluable, timecode-specific feedback to each other on their projects. Editing can often be an isolating and solitary pursuit—but it doesn't have to be. Our class has undertaken a final group project allowing students to edit a short film where the tasks of editing, color grading, and sound design are shared between four students. Working remotely is a valuable skill for students to learn and practice, especially now. Our class will livestream our final conference films in early May on the Filmmaking & Moving Image Arts Facebook page.”

Psychology Seminar: A Virtual Tour

Psychology faculty member Alison Jane Martingano put together this virtual tour of her seminar, The Psychological Impact of Art, which is being offered asynchronously via the Discussion feature of MySLC.

Gryphon Story Time

Freddie's Spaghetti was written by by Charlotte Doyle, a longtime member of the psychology and Child Development graduate program faculty. It is read here by alumna and faculty emerita Sara Wilford, founding co-director of the Child Development Institute, founding director of the Art of Teaching graduate program, and former long-time Early Childhood Center director.

Getting Creative in Beginning Russian (Part 2!)

Magdala de Santis '23 created a clever way to practice and demonstrate her language skills for Melissa Frazier's Beginning Russian class. In this video she delivers a weather report on location in Pennsylvania.

Art History Students Support Pictures for Elmhurst

Art History faculty member Sarah Hamill’s students recently decided to participate in Pictures for Elmhurst, a major fundraiser selling photographers’ prints to benefit Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York. First-year students in Sarah’s Histories and Theories of Photography seminar used funds that had been reserved for refreshments at their now-postponed exhibition in the Barbara Walters Gallery to purchase a photograph by faculty member Justine Kurland. The photo will be included in the class’s exhibition—titled, “What do you want from me?”—when it is able to be rescheduled.

Students in Sarah’s lecture class, Histories of Modern and Contemporary Art, voted to together purchase a photograph by Michael Bailey-Gates, and to donate it to the College.

The Writing Institute

The Writing Institute has a lot going on! Raise Your Words is a newsletter and website for writers of all skill levels, featuring writing prompts, readings, podcasts, and more.

In addition, for five weeks starting Thursday, April 23, Writing Institute instructors and students from the MFA in Writing program will be offering free, live writing classes on Youtube.

And this summer, the Institute's catalog of workshops in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, publishing, and more will be offered remotely.

Special Guest

Art of Teaching faculty member Patricia Virella surprised students in her Emergent Curriculum class with a Zoom visit from Dr. Chris Emdin. Recognized as one of the most influential educators in America, Dr. Emdin is an award-winning author, founder of the #HipHopEd social media movement, and an associate professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.

A Playlist for Don Diego

Spanish faculty member Heather Cleary describes a project for her course, Beyond the Boom: Latin American Literature and Film, in which students created a Spotify playlist for Don Diego de Zama after reading Antonio di Benedetto's 1956 novel, Zama, and viewing Lucrecia Martel's film version.

Getting Creative in Beginning Russian

During this time of remote learning, students in Melissa Frazier’s Beginning Russian class are finding new ways to practice the language. Geneva Myhrvold '23 recorded a video of herself playing every part in a scene from the Oscar-winning Russian movie, Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears. For reference, here's a clip of the original scene.

Student Artists Exhibit Their Work Online

Students in visual and studio arts faculty member Lucas Blalock's class "Problems in Photography" planned to hold weekly exhibitions of their work in Heimbold starting in late March. Now continuing their work remotely, Blalock and five senior students worked with the visual and studio arts staff to gather the work they would have exhibited for display online.

Theatre Zooms Its First Look Reading Series

On April 8, the Theatre program's First Look Reading Series went virtual, performing We Have Always Lived in the Castle via Zoom. Theatre has a full roster of digital performances coming up—follow them on Facebook!

The Art of Teaching & the ECC

Jasmine Bailey, a student in the Art of Teaching graduate program and assistant at the College's Early Childhood Center, sings with students in lead teacher Sarah Mathews' "fours" class.

The Gallery Van Goes Remote

The gallery van, run by the visual and studio arts program, is grounded in Andrews Lot for the time being. But just because the real van can't run to physical museums and galleries doesn't mean a virtual van can't run to online exhibitions! The virtual Gallery Van is running every Saturday—check it out!

Connecting with Alumni

From seminars with alumni and faculty to networking resources, performances, and local tours, there is never a dull moment on the alumni calendar. The Office of Alumni Relations has set up a Vimeo to share recent virtual events, starting with a reading by Richard Morais '81, author of The Man with No Borders.

Performance Lab Podcast

Produced by and the MFA Theatre Program, SLC's Performance Lab interviews visiting artists to the Grad Lab, one of the core components of the MFA program in which grad students work with guest artists and develop group generated performance pieces monthly. Interviewed artists include Doug Wright, Kamala Sankaram, Tom Lee, Deb Margolin, and Jennifer Kidwell.

Listen to the podcast on:

Footwork + Teamwork

The men's soccer team "got together" to show off their fancy footwork—and their teamwork—with this video on their Instagram. #GoGryphons

Visual & Studio Arts

How does one turn a visual or studio art course into a remote class? Faculty member John O'Connor weighs in: “What we're able to do because of the structure of SLC teaching—providing access to specific art materials coupled with intensive one-on-one teaching—makes us unique. I think the art our students make during this time will truly standout, and we'll be featuring this regularly on the college's website, in class exhibitions on Instagram, and a comprehensive website archive of art made in all classes. We're also creating virtual, faculty-curated gallery "van tours" (in lieu of our physical monthly trips), museum visits, movie nights, and arranging for our upcoming guest speaker, Asif Mian, to do a remote public lecture on his work. Stay tuned!

Dance Students Meet with Annie-B Parsons

Students in performance project with Elizabeth DeMent had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Annie-B Parson during the second week of remote learning. Annie discussed with the students her choreographic process and connections to her piece, The Snow Falls in the Winter, which was being set at Sarah Lawrence. Under Elizabeth DeMent’s instruction, the students are looking at the work in different ways in order to create a new video form to present as a final project. Stay tuned for the product; you may recognize parts of the original work, but there will be some new work included as well.

Virtual Poetry Slam

On April 1, writing faculty member Jeffrey McDaniel '90 joined alumna Aja Monet '09 for a virtual poetry slam she organized and hosted live on Facebook.

Animation from Coast to Coast

Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts faculty member Scott Duce teaches narrative animation online from New York with student Gayatri Degan in California.

Animation: Very Short Projects at Home

Students in filmmaking and moving image arts faculty member Robin Starbuck’s “Experimental Animation: Materials and Methods” class completed a few very short exercises recently. Shot on the students’ phones, the rough clips represent a great deal of work, and an even greater amount of resilience, on the part of the students. Shown in the clip above are one paper cut-out and three drawing on paper animation exercises.

Experimental Documentary: One Student's Travel from NYC to Paris in the Face of COVID-19

Justine Fisset '20, a student in Robin Starbuck's "Avant Doc: Experiments in Documentary Filmmaking" class shares the following about her powerful short film:

"My experimental documentary relates my travel back home, from NYC to Paris, after the announcement of the campus closure until the end of the spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I mostly wanted to express my lethargic state in face of this new kind of crisis, which takes possession of our bodies by emphasizing what is the most human expression of affection yet what became the most dangerous action today: our sense of touch. This piece is about being displaced in an unfamiliar world in which we have to suffer isolation inside our own homes, afraid of touching our loved ones. However, it is also a film about perseverance, in the hope that our dedication to stay home will soon allow our bodies to interact with others once again, in search of comfort."

"To Tell the Truth:" Nonfiction Workshop

Writing faculty member Suzanne Gardinier and the students in her nonfiction workshop, "To Tell the Truth," worked out a unique approach to their class: collaborating via a Google doc. They planned this approach together in their last class before spring break. Why this approach? The answer is so Sarah Lawrence: "They decided they wanted to write more," says Suzanne. 

In addition to their collaborative class approach, students have been holding their one-on-one conference sessions with Suzanne via Skype.

Thoughts from Our Faculty

Ann Heppermann teaches audio fiction and narrative audio journalism in the writing program. She also runs The Sarah Lawrence College International Audio Fiction Award, aka The Sarahs, which celebrate the best audio fiction currently being made around the world.

“Before the College moved to remote learning for the remainder of the spring semester, I organized Zoom tutorials for all of my writing colleagues. It not only was educational but also did wonders in terms of bringing us together as a team when it came to transferring to remote learning. A lot of the work that I do in my professional audio life involves remote work and utilizes numerous online platforms such as Slack, Soundcloud, Google Drive, and yes, Zoom. I already use a majority of these programs in the classroom so that students are well-versed in not only the craft of writing for the ear, but the tools used in the industry. This meant that I was able to quickly and happily transfer teaching those skills to my colleagues.

I miss seeing my students and meeting with them in person—no screen can replace that. However, I am glad that the platforms I've already been using as part of the classroom experience actually aided not just in the transition of my class to a purely online setting, but also made it easier for me to help teach my colleagues (as well as some other faculty not in the writing program).

Sarah Lawrence College is a place where we lift each other up. I am so glad that I was able to lift up and help not just my students but also my talented and gracious colleagues.”

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight...and Hunter?

In one of her online lectures of the Orpheus myth and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, literature faculty member Gillian Adler's dog Hunter wanted to join the virtual roundtable discussion. His presence upstaged both Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as her students' reactions show.