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Art School Bound: EPISD's fifth College Art Fair goes digital

2020 EPISD College Art Fair

2019 EPISD College Art Fair

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- Oct. 20, 2020) — EPISD’s fifth College Art Fair on Wednesday is going virtual this year.

The District’s innovative approach of giving visual artists a chance to meet with colleges and art schools from around the country will continue despite the pandemic. The event this year features representatives from 13 art institutes and universities during three different sessions.

The colleges participating in this year’s virtual visits are: Pratt Art Institute, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Laguna College of Art and Design, UT Austin, University of Michigan-STAMPS Art and Design, Southwest School of Art, Maryland Art Institute, Chicago Art Institute, Pacific Norwest Art and Design, Washington University in St. Louis, UTEP, Sul Ross and NMSU Art Department.

“Our students have been able to review the information and do some research on each school and their specialty or focus,” said Rosa Aguilar, visual arts facilitator. “We chose to host this event on Wednesdays knowing that our EPISD high school students have asynchronous instruction during this day, and would accommodate their busy schedule.”

EPISD students have already signed up and begun preparing for their virtual visits with the college and art institute representatives which begin tomorrow and continue Oct. 28 and Nov. 4. Previously, the students brought their portfolio to show college representatives who would review the quality of the artwork as an admissions requirement. Students now will sign up for virtual sessions, and will receive a similar yet virtual opportunity for acceptance into a post-secondary visual arts program.

“Art students go through a very different admissions process than the regular education students,” Aguilar said. “Students’ artwork and portfolio requirements make up for a large part of admissions, scholarships and grant opportunities.”

The virtual art fair does have its advantages. This year, the prestigious Pratt Art Institute in New York City – unable to send a live representative in previous years – will be participating to provide information on their Bachelor’s in Fine Arts program. The virtual fair also will use the WebinarJam platform to enhance the students’ experience. 

“Our students will be able to have a professional national conference experience with WebinarJam as they visit the breakout session college room of their choice,” Aguilar said.

Traditionally, more than 100 seniors interested in furthering their education in visual arts attend. Every year, an average of $350,000 in admission scholarships and grants have been offered to EPISD seniors from the different art institutes and universities as a result of the fair. 

“This year has been challenging for all of us,” Aguilar said. “However, we want to make sure our students have college and career readiness opportunities despite COVID limitations. We all need to continue to follow our dreams.”

Story by Reneé de Santos
File photo by Leonel Monroy