Over the past month, like all of you, we have been closely monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) developments around the globe, hopeful that our Cranbrook sanctuary, a safe and inclusive environment, would provide our students adequate isolation from the real world. Awash with reports, recommendations and opinions, continuous news feeds and social media, we have worked to maintain our mission and values through the evolving pandemic. We adapted to monitoring our health, carefully cleaning, and practicing social distancing. It was our plan to remain open with the highest concern for each other. As the mandates escalated, our plan became untenable.
On Monday, March 16, the collective decision was made to disperse as many students from school as possible to allow everyone who could return home to do so, or to go to places where they could best be supported ahead of the next eventuality. We are working with those students who could not leave on a case-by-case basis to ensure their safety. We have canceled physical classes for the rest of the semester and moved to an online learning environment.
Our role is to help our students develop as artists, designers, and architects, and we will not waver in that commitment. Our connections will continue online and in shared virtual spaces for now, but in the fall, we hope they will move shared physical spaces again. For those students who are graduating, we have offered assurances that they are still a part of the fabric of Cranbrook Academy of Art, with a network of alumni that spans generations who are all eager to help them get their start in the world.
We have asked our students for patience as we navigate this new normal together. This is an unprecedented time for us all, and our intent is to treat students with kindness and respect while we sail these uncharted waters. Our small staff has been working around the clock and will continue to do so to ensure we are able to meet their needs.
For now, we are trying to do what we can for our graduating students. We made the difficult decision to cancel the Graduate Degree Exhibition at Cranbrook Art Museum, and we are currently looking into putting an exhibition online through student-submitted images and video. We are also exploring the possibility of hosting regional pop-up shows around the country or an event in Detroit at a later date.
We continue to post photos on our social media channels daily – one for each of our graduating students – to showcase their work and link to their personal channels and websites. We encourage you to follow those posts and provide positive feedback to our students.
We are also activating our alumni networks across the country. This support will help connect our students to alumni in their area or within their department to assist them with employment opportunities or to help them find a place to show their work. These connections run deep and we are so grateful for our strong alumni base.
In spite of the disappointment and uncertainty that our students are feeling, I was moved to receive a number of uplifting and reassuring messages from them this week. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate their kind words and their care and support of each other. It is truly my privilege to be part of such an inspired community. I know that out of this adversity, they will create unique and positive responses to the changes thrust upon us, and these outcomes will become significant in their historic legacy. I believe they will emerge from this moment as creative leaders who will work to create a more just and beautiful world.
Peace be with you all,
Susan R. Ewing
The Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director
Cranbrook Academy of Art