Student Spotlight: Studying visual arts online

27 August 2021

Rising to the challenges of online learning

We speak to first-year Visual Arts student Manasi Bengeri about the ups and downs of starting University remotely and how she turns a situation that is seemingly disadvantageous to a fun learning experience.

As Sydney plunges into another wave of lockdown, our students have risen to the challenges of online learning.

Manasi Bengeri, a first-year Bachelor of Visual Arts student, is not only faced with starting University remotely, but also learning a subject that ­– in normal times, thrives on interaction.

Why visual arts?

Image of artwork by visual arts student.

Pictured: An artwork in progress by visual arts student Manasi Bengeri.

As a young artist with a lifelong passion for visual arts, pursuing it at a professional level seemed like the obvious answer. In the whirlwind that was 2020, it was also a natural choice to pursue something that brought confidence and joy to Manasi’s life.

“I did two years of High-Level Visual Arts in my International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), which really broadened my mind to great possibilities," she explains. "My drive to perceive my world in a positive and vibrant manner attracted me to take up visual arts professionally and on a much deeper level."

The dilemma then followed was simply, where? Manasi applied to several art colleges but ultimately made up her mind to accept her first offer to study at Sydney College of the Arts.

“I had heard from family friends that it is one of the best universities for visual arts and that made my decision clearer,” she says.

Starting university online

Truth be told, Manasi’s expectations on starting her degree online were not hopeful.

“I had mentally prepared myself for a boring remote learning experience," she says. "But to my surprise, it was quite the opposite. This semester has been an incredible start to a very fun and fascinating degree ahead.”

Image of visual arts students collaborating online.

Image: International student Manasi Bengeri collaborating online with a fellow student.

I really enjoyed the variety of activities we were given in class which helped me explore the field of art even more. It taught me how I could create art with the most minimal items within my reach at a home level.
Manasi Bengeri, first-year Visual Arts student

This is not to say Manasi doesn’t prefer on-campus, she still thinks on-campus learning is one of the most crucial aspects of the university experience – and rightly so! However, looking at the situation from a fresh perspective has given her an unexpected level of certainty.

I decided to join even though I knew it was online, because last year was all about waiting and uncertainty and that brought me a lot of anxiety. For me, enrolling into a university made my path clear.
Manasi Bengeri, first-year Visual Arts student
Image of print artwork in progress by visual arts student.

Image: A work in progress by Manasi Bengeri.

Advice to future students

The hesitation to learn remotely, especially for a visual arts degree, is felt by all and should be acknowledged. Despite that, Manasi has some advice for students who are unsure about starting or continuing their degree in a virtual capacity.

“Jump right into it!” she says. “Take up online classes if that’s the only choice at the moment, because something is always better than nothing at all.”

This simple advice speaks to her resilience behind the scenes. Ultimately, it is all about flexibility and weighing up what works best for you. Manasi also explains that where you can, it's important to "engage and put in more effort into socialising than what you would do in a normal circumstance.”

“The only way you can take your mind off of the anxiety of not being there is by communicating with as many students as possible and taking part in other university activities or working alongside.”

When asked about where she sees herself after graduation, Manasi is still exploring. One thing for certain though is for whichever path she decides to take, it would be a decision taken very naturally from the heart.

Interested in exploring Visual Arts with a Sydney difference? Visit the Sydney College of the Arts for more information.

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