In spring 2022, the second semester back in person on our campus after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, like other academic institutions, we were all wearing masks and searching for safe ways to engage students in the classroom and on campus. Many were hesitant to get involved or participate in campus activities, class discussions, and connections in general.
I implemented a class activity in an in-person introductory creative strategic advertising course. The activity involved students going to the campus art museum to see two curated art exhibits to compare and contrast the artistic style and aesthetic. The goals of the activity are that they see the differences between the collections and visualize ways to execute a cohesive look and feel for their creative campaign aesthetic.
After visiting the exhibits, students engage in discussion, sharing their reflections and perceptions. Students shared that the exhibition experience helped them understand the importance of creative campaign aesthetics. As they participated in the museum exhibits, they experienced the artists’ and curators’ vision for the collection – who wanted viewers to feel something. Similarly, campaigns share an essential message from a brand and want the target audience to feel a certain way when engaging with it. They realized campaign aesthetic is more about executing a cohesive tone and mood, than mere color and font selection.
The benefits expand beyond the objectives of the assignment into engaging students in a campus experience at the gallery. Campus art museums, like numerous other organizations, were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with facility closure and residual fallout. Art experiences can improve mental health (e.g., Breed et al., 2022; Gallo et al., 2021; Lobban & Murphy, 2020; McDonald et al., 2019).
This activity could also be implemented to encourage students to engage with community art galleries, virtual art exhibitions (e.g., National Museum of Women in the Arts, Tate Modern, The Smithsonian, etc.), and multimedia immersive experiences (e.g., Immersive Van Gogh, Claude Monet the Immersive Experience, Meow Wolf, Seismique, etc.).
Art exhibitions and immersive experiences are opportunities for pedagogical application, community partnerships, and mental health interventions.
Breed, A., Uwihoreye, C., Ndushabandi, E., Elliott, M., & Pells, K. (2022). Mobile arts for peace (MAP) at home: Digital art-based mental health provision in response to COVID-19. Journal of Applied Arts & Health, 13(1), 77-95. https://doi.org/10.1386/jaah_00094_1
Gallo, L. M., Giampietro, V., Zunszain, P. A., & Tan, K. S. (2021). Covid-19 and mental health: Could visual art exposure help? Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 650314. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.650314
Lobban, J., & Murphy, D. (2020). Military museum collections and art therapy as mental health resources for veterans with PTSD. International Journal of Art Therapy, 25(4), 172-182. https://doi.org/10.1080/17454832.2020.1845220
McDonald, A., Holttum, S., & Drey, N. S. J. (2019). Primary-school-based art therapy: Exploratory study of changes in children’s social, emotional and mental health. International Journal of Art Therapy, 24(3), 125-138. https://doi.org/10.1080/17454832.2019.1634115