COM Showcases Student Post-Pandemic Artwork
A new course designed by Dr. Stephen DiDomenico, Special Topics in Relational Communication, explores the classic communication topic of social support intersects with recent research and theory regarding technology use and mental health outcomes. Dr. DiDomenico says that when it comes to the mental health component at the end of the course, “Our main focus there is on the discourse surrounding the loneliness epidemic that has stretched across the last decade, and now, of course, stretched into the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Department of Communication and Media is showcasing student artwork from this class in the hallways of the second floor of Wayne Hall.
Dr. DiDomenico has taught similar topics throughout his career but wanted to focus specifically on how communication shapes our reality, social support processes, and the idea of loneliness. As last fall was the first full semester in person since 2019, these topics are more relevant than ever for students and faculty alike. Fifth-year student Jillian Reichley, whose artwork is featured above and in the Wayne Hall showcase, says that she wishes everyone was able to take this course. “No matter the person, these topics affect everyone – especially during a time that technology’s existence plays a role in our everyday lives,” Jillian says about the course’s themes.
Jillian incorporated the topics of social connections, technology, and loneliness in her artwork. She aimed to represent how some connections are closer than others and the feeling of being disconnected in the age of technology. “You’ll see a phone with notifications and exclamation points above it. This highlights the fact that even if you’re getting notifications on your phone, you may still feel lonely.”
Dr. DiDomenico says he wanted students to be able to connect the course’s three main topics while also having the freedom to express themselves. The artwork displayed in Wayne Hall are only a few examples of how students interpreted this assignment. “In the end, I was floored with the positive reactions students had to the course,” DiDomenico says. “What I learned in the end was that students were really hungry to dig deeper with digesting their interpersonal experiences from the last few years and, most of all, to simply connect with other people again. Since the class was essentially all about social connection, this was incredibly meaningful to me as an educator.”