Courtesy of Gregory Chapman
X-ray’s online interview with Mr. Chapman:
Question: Why do you think art is important during these times of social distancing?
Chapman: Art is a wonderful way to express things inside that can be difficult to articulate with words. We are all thinking so many thoughts and feeling such a mixed range of emotions that sometimes it is good to be still, quiet, and let your inside world manifest itself through art making.
Question: What types of projects are your students working on now?
Chapman: Students have worked on artworks that respond to the prompts of social distancing, quarantine,and hands (because we are hopefully washing them often). Our current assignment is to make a drawing or painting of their favorite place to be during this time of physical distancing. That place could be a room in their home, a park bench, a bike path, or any other place where students find comfort and refuge from the craziness of our current situation.
Question: Are you finding students to be more/less inspired to create art during these times, and if so why do you think this is?
Chapman: Throughout the ages art has been a way for people to make a record of their time here. Some of the best art is made during periods of great hardships and struggle. This is one of those times. The students send art to me that makes me laugh as well as cause me to think. Each piece opens a doorway into the artist’s mind inviting us to walk in and take a look around. They are leaving a record of their personal experience of life at this moment in time. We should feel honored to be offered the chance to “see” what they are thinking.
Question: What similar/different themes throughout artwork do you see now compared to before social distancing?
Chapman: Art has always been a way for us to express anxiety and fears, that theme has been ever present and I saw it often in the “normal” school setting. The thing that I am seeing more of is student art that illustrates people reaching out and longing to be with other people. I think this event is causing us all to realize how important we are to each other and that being together makes life richer. We probably took that for granted before the pandemic.
Question: If any, what differences have you seen from student’s work in the classroom compared to at home?
Chapman: The main difference is that students don’t have access to the tools and materials that we provide in the art room. Since students may not have their own supplies or are not able to go get them due to distancing restrictions, some works are being made with simple materials such as lined notebook paper and pencil. However, a napkin with a simple sketch signed by Picasso sold for $5,000 at auction. That tells us that art is valuable regardless of what it’s made with.