Emma Shuford ’22 Arts Editor
Finding ways to cope with the coronavirus is a challenge all Mercersburg Academy students are facing. Many students are using their time at home to try something new or to continue developing special skills or hobbies. Using the arts to cope while away from school and friends is beneficial for students as they navigate the uncertainty of the coronavirus.
Unexpected free time presents many opportunities to engage in activities such as playing an instrument, dancing, singing, drawing, painting, and more. While further developing skills, it is fun to discover new ways to use them. Linden Amster ’23 said, “I have been trying during this unfortunate time to further my video editing skills by making fun videos with me and my brother for Instagram.”
“I’m using art to cope with self-quarantine by spending most of my time doing it every day. Because of the time difference, I usually have the day off, which gives me a lot of time to work. This is a lot of free time; however, art makes it fly by,” said Stanley Fang ’21. Fang has been playing guitar, drawing with his colored pencils, and doing 3D modeling as well as digital animation.
Besides further developing skills, trying something new during the quarantine can add variety to the day. Paige Cromwell ’20 recently purchased a guitar and started teaching herself how to play. Jay Howley ’21 said, “I’ve learned to do a painting on the floor while keeping cat hair off of it.”
In addition to creating art independently, virtual PGAs and similar activities offered by Mercersburg faculty provide another creative outlet. Denise Dalton, the Director of Dance, has begun offering dance classes to PGA dancers everyday, a refreshing break from schoolwork. Keli Flanagan ’20, a twelve-season dancer at Mercersburg, said, “It’s given me something to do and kept me sane so far. At the beginning of the break, I was trying to choreograph a group piece for the spring concert, and I still occasionally work on it. It gives me a good, fun workout since I am not dancing everyday or as intensely as I had been when we were still at school.”
Taking a break from staring at a screen is essential during the day while in quarantine. Cromwell reported, “It’s something that is completely mine. No matter what’s been going or how scared everybody is about the pandemic, my music and my painting are the things that I know nothing can touch. It’s a constant when everything else is uncertain.”
Harriet Brown ’22 also turns to art as a helpful distraction from work. She said, “It gives me a break during the day to just listen to music and draw, doodle or paint. It relaxes me and I think it could easily be a form of meditation. During a school day when I look at electronics so much, it’s really relaxing and nice to take a break and get off my laptop.”
“I think that creation is just something that I do naturally, whether a concept comes to fruition or not. It’s very therapeutic when I get to just turn off my brain and then draw, not really thinking about quality,” said Howley.
The free time students now have can be a gift, whether trying something you have always wanted to do or immersing yourself in activities you love. The arts bring stability, relaxation, and joy we all need to find when coping with these unprecedented times.