By Folake Okunsanya ‘22 News Reporter
During quarantine, we have all had to find things to do to keep ourselves entertained. The Student Activities Committee (SAC) has been incredibly helpful, providing fun challenges and quizzes to boost the community’s mood during this time. One recent such activity was the Mercersburg Art Challenge, which encouraged students to submit images of artwork they have created during the quarantine. These included animation, drawings, paintings, and photography.
Activities like the art challenge are important, as they encourage and celebrate the creativity in our community. However, in such an uncertain time, these diversions are especially significant as they keep the community together and give people something to do or work towards. Sometimes creating a piece of art is all it takes to make quarantine better.
The Mercersburg Art Challenge was organized by Trini Hoffman, the Director of Student Activities. According to Hoffman, “I wanted just to see what people were doing with their time at home and offer something that was relaxing and would take them to a quiet place. I think it is important for everyone to stay connected, and this was a way to see what people might be doing.”
The submissions from students and faculty reflected the different talents of the Mercersburg community. Kaitlyn Dowling ’23, who submitted a digital drawing, said, “The inspiration behind this piece was old Greco-Roman folklore, sirens, mixed with some more modern stories about magic and such. The art was not really influenced by the current situation, as I had already thought about the concept beforehand and really just needed more time to complete it. Quarantine gave me enough free time to do the work.”
The artists drew inspiration from a wide variety of subjects. Science and mathematics teacher Jim Malone took part in the challenge and submitted a wildlife photograph. Malone said, “I love taking pictures of birds, so it is a normal part of my routine.”
College counselor Cindy Fowler sent in a landscape painting. Fowler said, “This time at home has led to a lot more art projects with my kids, and a recommendation from a friend prompted me to take an online painting class a few weeks ago. It was a lot of fun, a nice blend of live (virtual) human interaction, and some time to myself in my house. So, nothing overly inspirational, but an enjoyable outlet and chance to do something I enjoy.”
Will Willis, the Director of Environmental Initiatives and member of the science department, shared a hilarious drawing. Willis said, “Just a funny thought that popped into my head as the coronavirus was just getting started in China and Italy. It would make me chuckle once a day or so, and I finally took a few minutes to sketch it up a few weeks later.”
Laura Patterson, the Dormitory Dean of Tippetts Hall, submitted a watercolor painting featuring a bear with a crown of flowers on its head. “I have a particular interest in watercolor painting and I try to paint things that bring me or my loved ones joy, like animals, flowers, and one of my latest pieces of lemons. I try to incorporate a lot of bright colors into my paintings,” Patterson said.
Marlee Ecton ‘21 contributed a paint-by-numbers work. Ecton said, “This situation definitely inspired it though because I’ve been looking for creative outlets to kind of relax and get away from technology and the news. Working on this piece allowed me to take a break every day between class and homework, and it gave me a sense of routine and normalcy amidst this crazy time.”
Inspiration for art comes from many aspects in our lives, and art oftentimes reflects the world we are living in and observing. Art is a way to express oneself, and in the current situation, when words may not convey all of the emotions we are experiencing, art is an outlet to voice those emotions. For many people in quarantine, creating art is a way to remain sane. And, of course, art is beautiful.
Patterson said, “The current situation has influenced me to focus on painting to relax and find the joy in life. It’s also allowed me the time to pursue my interest in watercolor. Painting helps me relax and distracts from the heavy stressors that are occurring in our world.”