It would be great to have a robust and sustainable model for this type of collaboration – getting the arts students involved in JMU X-Labs and the X-Labs students involved in the arts benefits everyone. I would love to work towards a model of collaboration that is sustained year-over-year.

Rubén Graciani Interim Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts

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Arts Innovations: Sophomore Studio

The Show Must Go On

In the midst of a pandemic that requires little to no physical contact, how do you modify theater productions, adapt to new, limited settings, and share performances with a public who can’t be in front of the stage?

In partnership with JMU X-Labs, students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts merged theater and dance with technology to create virtual settings and performances. Sophomore Studio developed innovative solutions and designed virtual spaces and interactions to make theater and dance more accessible in response to a changing world.

Students perform a dance on a parking garage rooftop

Read more about the class in our blog post: The Performing Arts Go Virtual.


Arts Innovations: Furious Flower

The Furious Flower Digital Archive prototype is a result of the Arts Innovations: Furious Flower classroom-based digital humanities (DH) project supported by JMU X-Labs. The class that built the prototype included five faculty and a total of 33 undergraduate students from English, Education, Graphic Design, and Writing Studies. The website showcases the entire proceedings of the first Furious Flower conference in 1994, the first and one of the most prestigious conferences dedicated to Black poetry in the world, supplementing video and other archival materials from the conference with interpretive and educational media designed by the class. The archive prototype is a responsive website built on WordPress utilizing the Foundation front-end framework.

The final site has a style sheet with

  • 2,967 lines of handwritten code
  • 95 unique web pages

Content developed for the site includes

  • 529 transcribed video clips (approximately 55 hours of video)
  • Student-written biographies of 41 poets and eight critics
  • Interactive content such as a timeline that links poems to 21 historical events
  • An interactive version of the original conference program with embedded video
  • An education portal leads to student and teacher resources that includes nine lesson plans aligned with reading, writing, and language Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts and the Virginia Standards of Learning.

The prototype was designed with three goals in mind: 

  1. To help Furious Flower envision the possibilities of a digital archive
  2. To attract potential funders
  3. To accomplish these first two tasks in a way that fulfilled a central part of its mission as a center: to teach students the love of Black poetry.

The prototype gave the Furious Flower Poetry Center tangible evidence of the future archive’s potential, while also demonstrating the pedagogical and methodological value of engaging undergraduates in DH. It was fitting that the prototype had its official unveiling at the Furious Flower 25th Anniversary Celebration at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2019. 

Arts Innovations
Open to Theatre and Dance majors

Interested in this class?
Contact us and we’ll connect you with the instructor.

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