Students, Faculty Find Innovative Ways to Present Visual and Performing Arts in Socially Distant Times

November 24, 2020
By: Andrea Binnick

This time last year, Visual and Performing Arts Department faculty, students, and staff were preparing to deliver performances of “Romeo and Juliet” in the Fuller Theater. On campus, the Mary Cosgrove Dolphin Gallery was hosting viewers of “Crossroads: 4 Perspectives,” an exhibit showcasing four local artists who used natural resources in their work. Applied music students and Chorale singers alike were rehearsing for end-of-semester performances at venues including the Student Center’s Blue Lounge and Worcester’s Our Lady of Angels Church.

This year, the arts are still happening. While current events have inevitably and drastically changed the delivery and consumption of art across the world, country, and campuses, the Visual and Performing Arts Department has joined an international movement toward presenting the arts in ways that are as accessible and innovative as ever.

“While the pandemic has brought tremendous challenge and uncertainty for people on an international scale, we’ve found that the arts are providing positive and necessary outlets for others—including students at Worcester State of a full range of majors,” says Visual and Performing Arts Chair and Theater Professor Adam Zahler, M.F.A.

“It’s important to acknowledge just how much we look forward to performing together again in person with our audiences, but we have responded with creative adaptations,” he adds. “We’re gearing up for end-of-semester presentations in new and exciting ways.”

The department has scheduled several upcoming offerings for students and other audiences alike.

The Mary Cosgrove Dolphin Gallery is presently seeking artists for a juried art exhibit called “2020.” Artists have until Thursday, Feb. 11, to submit pieces for consideration in an online exhibition that will open in the spring. Exhibit juror and VPA Professor Stacey Parker, M.F.A., has made entry details available here:

On Thursday, Dec. 3, the department’s theater program will open “Oedipus, the King,” a dynamic, online performance featuring edited video at 7:30 p.m., with a live question-and-answer session with the cast to immediately follow the show. The play, which was written by Sophocles with translation by Nicholas Rudall, will continue to stream nightly through Wednesday, Dec. 9, with a 2 p.m. matinee stream on Dec. 6.

To make the show possible, theater faculty held auditions at the start of the semester by giving students the option of auditioning over Zoom or individually in person with a mask. A link to their remarkably relevant play will be featured on the Visual and Performing Arts website prior to showtimes:

On Tuesday, Dec. 15, Worcester State University Chorale members, who also auditioned online at the start of the semester, will perform solos and duets at 7 p.m. via a Facebook Live presentation called “Winter’s Spirit, A Celebration in Song” on the Worcester State University Alumni page: While the group was scheduled to tour Barcelona and Madrid, Spain, in the spring, the singers are planning and fundraising for a potential trip next year.

The Applied Music Program will also make its annual fall show, Mosaic of Music, available via an online presentation. Music students say that through adaptations, including remote practice space and online instruction with faculty, playing an instrument is not only possible but also a highlight through the times.

With online adaptations, students continue to have the option to play their respective instruments and join ensembles including brass, guitar, jazz, strings, piano, Música, and wind. Registrations for course credit can be made by contacting

A variety of additional courses, including lessons in modern guitar, jazz harmony, computers and music, and music composition and technology, are also being made available online for Spring 2021 students.

Also in Spring 2021, for the first time in several years, students will have an opportunity to take Abstract Painting AR350 with Professor Michael Hachey. A professor at Worcester State since 1992, Prof. Hachey is an award-winning Worcester artist whose exhibitions have appeared in the Worcester Art Museum, the Hewlett Gallery of Carnegie Mellon University and Decordova Museum and Sculpture Park, to name just a few locations.

This online special topics studio course complements studies in a variety of fields through exploring abstract styles inspired by science, math, technology, music, movement, textiles, and more. Interested students may contact the professor at for enrollment permissions or more information. In addition, he created a video about the offering, which is available on VPA’s YouTube Channel: .

VPA Studio Art Professor Amaryllis Siniossogou shares a goal of offering students “a safe, inspiring, enjoyable, creative, and learning college experience during challenging times,” she says.

Siniossoglou, whose fall offerings at Worcester State include Life Studio, Painting, Printmaking, Cross Media and Watercolor, took courses with Massachusetts College of Art, Art New England and others during the summer and fall in order to study online approaches to Studio Art and learn about the student experience. As a result, Worcester State students are expressing their appreciation.

“Watercolor has been super therapeutic for me, and I have loved every minute of it,” says Brynn Mitchell, a current student of Siniossoglou’s online AR240 Watercolor Course, who also expressed thanks to Prof. Siniossoglou. “I am looking forward to continuing this new hobby of mine. The Zoom meetings went so well.”

For more information on Visual and Performing Arts courses and offerings, visit

Pictured above: The cast of  “Oedipus, the King.” 

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