Emma Stoolmaker, junior Art Education major and Art History minor, was awarded a CREATE! Micro-Grant for her project showcasing the importance of communication during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CREATE! Micro-Grant program selected 12 student projects, including Stoolmaker’s, to each receive $500 to respond critically and imaginatively to events occurring during the pandemic. The winning projects are now displayed in a virtual exhibit.
For her project, Stoolmaker created a large-scale collaged postcard representing her time in Rome, Italy, during a study abroad this past spring that ended sooner than expected due to the pandemic.
“I thought that my experience would be a little different than other peoples,” Stoolmaker said, “but also this shows how communication is so essential in times like these.”
The project took Stoolmaker about two months to create. She painted an arch that was modeled after the same one she often passed through during her time in Rome. Underneath this are letters from her friends sent to her while she was abroad that she cut into strips and wove together, which became the foundation for the painting. She lightly painted a map of the city on top to create a layered look.
It is a way to show how human connection has evolved and now there is something really nostalgic from writing letters. That is something I want to continue doing, and actually because of this, I have been writing more letters with my friends.
“I think it is a very interesting way to situate my work and the time I am living in,” Stoolmaker said. “It is a way to show how human connection has evolved and now there is something really nostalgic from writing letters. That is something I want to continue doing, and because of this, I have been writing more letters with my friends.”
Stoolmaker used the CREATE! Micro-Grant funding for living expenses and art supplies.
“My work is usually more abstract and representational and not sentimental necessarily,” she said, “but this grant really let me reflect on my experience and let me make something that can be seen as a documentation of the relationships that I made abroad. When I first started the project, I had no idea how it was going to end up. It gave me the space to try new things and allowed me to learn a lot about what I want to start to do in my future projects.”
Stoolmaker said she would like to do more with mail art.
“I really like the idea of mail art, something I have never done before, but something I have studied a lot about in my history classes and while working at the Broad Art Museum,” she said. “I definitely want to include that more. I am even working on a painting right now that I am planning adding letters to it.”
Stoolmaker is part of the Citizen Scholars Program. During her study abroad, a lot of the research she was doing was for her final project with Citizen Scholars program, which is about art education and its accessibility in different communities.
“I love being in the Citizen Scholars program. A lot of my artwork has been a direct product from the things I have learned in a lot of the Citizen Scholar curriculum,” Stoolmaker said. “Citizen Scholars has given me the ability and money and space to really dive into that important research, which is going to be very beneficial when I start teaching and that will help me understand how to set up my classroom and how to engage with kids.”
“Citizen Scholars has given me the ability and money and space to really dive into that important research, which is going to be very beneficial when I start teaching and that will help me understand how to set up my classroom and how to engage with kids.”
Stoolmaker is currently an education intern for Family and Schools Programing at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. She works with families and schools talking about the exhibits and writing curriculum. Due to the pandemic, this internship is now virtual and requires her to meet with classrooms virtually.
“I never dreamed that I would be in a situation like this, but I am grateful for it,” Stoolmaker said. “I have definitely gotten stronger with my ability to talk with kids. It is definitely very different to make art with them online. Making art with them over the computer is a lot different than what I am used to.”