Art During a Pandemic: Help Your Brain, No Experience Necessary [link]


Maddie Godin ('20)

Devin Kwarula ('22)

STANWICH ROAD/REMOTE – Art imitates life, they say.  Maybe in terms of surreal expression, it’s the other way around.

Stores are closed, schools are on screens, and nothing seems quite as easy as it used to be.  But creativity remains a constant.

“We are living in an unprecedented moment in history and it’s very important that we express what we see and how we feel,” GCDS US art teacher Jane Graham says.

As the GCDS Upper School continues school remotely, students also continue to expand their creativity at home. 

For the past few weeks, students have dedicated their time producing work that reflected this current time, in addition to what they felt was personal or inspiring to them and others. Their work was later compiled into a short video montage by Jane Graham and Jonathan DeVries, US music educator, that showcased the collaboration of both departments and their young creators. 

“Everyone has been working very hard and I thought that the video was simply beautiful. This video makes me so proud of the GCDS community,” GCDS sophomore and art student Gayle Miranda said. 

Ms. Graham shared some of her ideas about why art and creativity are so important. 

“I feel like the arts are more important than usual. I also feel that the arts provide us with an alternative to all the time we spend in front of our screens,” she expressed. 

As the world continues to battle coronavirus, it becomes more and more clear that school won’t be opening back up – at least now how we remember it exactly. 

However, creating new art and staying occupied is something that is strongly encouraged by many audiences. According to the American Psychological Association, social isolation carries a number of health risks like lack of sleep, lack of cardiovascular health, depressive symptoms, and much more. 

It is therefore crucial that we stay active while also keeping our minds and creativity active as well. 

Gayle, a student of Mrs. Graham’s Studio art class, also expressed her feelings as to why art and creativity should be practiced in these times.

“Art is very important during times like these because it is a great way to express emotion. Also, I think all art tells a story and by making art during these times, it is a great artifact that we could reflect on in the future.” 

Being creative and producing art can take your mind off those things and keep yourself occupied while at home. According to a recent NPR story by reporter Malakha Gharib , when you make art, you’re making a series of decisions that keep your mind at work and challenge you to think freely rather than thinking in sequence or in a specific order. Art is open to all sorts of ideas and interpretations. 

Maybe best of all in a time when we all need to look good on a screen and get our hand-washing perfect…one doesn’t have to be “good” or super-skilled at drawing or creating things. 

“For those who don’t consider themselves artists, but want to try making some art, know that just using a pencil and drawing some stuff is still good art and that all of this work doesn’t need to have a message relating to the virus, or a message in general,” GCDS art student Matthew Simpson says. 

More than ever, doing something like art is a choice.  Matt agrees.

“It’s as fine to do art as it is not to do art, so don’t feel guilty about not doing art.”

For the GCDS Art Showcase video, click here.

For the “Lighting the Way” gallery, click here.

Devin Kwarula is a rising junior who enjoys the field of interior design and loves creating captivating artwork.