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Art Students Create Winning Videos During COVID-19 Crisis

Three Students to Receive $500 Cash Prizes for 'Art Together Now' Contest
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A new living situation, temporary job loss and a wedding on hold. These are some of the personal challenges that inspired three Cal State Fullerton students to turn to art during the COVID-19 crisis.

When Sunshine Hurtienne needed to quickly relocate from her on-campus apartment and YueTong Tsen was furloughed from her job, the two art majors decided to move in together to support each other.

The pair joined forces to create a felt animation video for the College of the Arts’ “Art Together Now” contest, designed to showcase how dance, music, theater or visual arts can bring people together amid stay-at-home orders.

One of two winning videos, Hurtienne and Tsen’s “Share the Love” reflects the creative ways people are staying connected during a time of physical isolation.

“In times of crisis, art is a recording of our shared experiences as a community,” they said. “Whether you are a creator or consumer of media, art acts as the bridge between individuals and their unique stories.”

Using the traditional animation pipeline — from concept to storyboard to animation to post-production — the video took over a week to complete, with five days devoted to filming. Both Hurtienne, whose concentration is entertainment arts/animation, and Tsen, whose concentration is illustration, plan to graduate in spring 2021.

The second winning video, “Art Together Now 6” by senior Michelle Jayme, uses relatable illustrations to demonstrate what six feet of social distancing looks like to an art major.

“The purpose of art during times of crisis is to bring unity, awareness and understanding that we are all in this together,” she said. “We are together with our fear, creativity and hopefulness that this crisis will soon pass.”

Like many students, Jayme has been personally impacted by the pandemic, including transitioning from studio art classes to virtual instruction and postponing her summer wedding.

“I miss physically meeting with my fellow classmates; the knowledge, helpfulness and laughter we have shared is missed so much,” said Jayme, whose concentration is graphic and interactive design.

“I know I am not alone in the struggle, fear and the events that have been stolen due to COVID-19,” she continued. “Those specific challenges led me to dive into my illustrations, my career, my art even deeper.”

Despite her worries, Jayme felt compelled to create a video with an uplifting message. “I did not want the direction of my video to add fear, since we have so much to fear during this time,” she said. “I wanted the video to add inspiration: Even though our daily routines have stopped, our creativity has not.”

A total of 62 entries were submitted to the April contest via social media (#ArtTogetherNow, @csufcota).  The three student winners will each receive a $500 cash prize.

“All the submissions to the ‘Arts Together Now’ contest, and especially the winning videos, were insightful to not only what our students are feeling but what we are all experiencing,” said Dale Merrill, dean of the College of the Arts. “I am continually amazed at the resiliency of our students and the creativity and vision they are able to share with our community.”

Contact: Lynn Juliano,