Art during coronavirus: students of all skills turn towards art to combat quarantine boredom

By Eliza Barr '21

The pandemic-induced quarantine consists of long days with less-than-thrilling work, and no difference from the feeling of a Monday to a Saturday. Boredom has slowly been seeping in as Westport students reach nearly two months since social distancing began. Yet one thing has saved experts and newcomers alike from the seemingly endless quarantine boredom: art. With more time on their hands, students of all skill levels are turning towards creating.

For Diana Hoffman ’21, art has always been a hobby, growing up in classrooms packed with easels and art teachers mulling around the room, peering over student’s shoulders. But with classes online, Hoffman finds herself adjusting to a totally different way of learning art.

“It’s definitely more difficult having art class online,” Hoffman said. “It’s usually nice to be surrounded by other artists and teachers while I work on my art.”

Despite this, Hoffman has found her Honors Studio Art class to still be engaging, with assignments and check-in dates keeping the students active.

“Overall I think that the art teachers have done a great job keeping us busy and engaged with creative projects,” Hoffman said.

Above, art created by Diana Hoffman ’21 during quarantine. Hoffman has found the virtual classes to be a strange adjustment but prompts like interpreting fairy tales (right) have kept her engaged and productive.
Art by Alexandra Lam ’21
Left and above, art by Michael Beaudoin ’21
Art by Sabrina Paris ’23

Staples art teacher Camille Eskell has been impressed with the work of her students. Teaching five different classes, Eskell says that there is a lot of work that goes into each one, including creating instructional PowerPoints and making sure all students are up to date with assignment due dates

“The more advanced classes have more experience but I have crafted assignments in a new way for them to understand space and form,” Eskell said. “Most have done remarkably well with the work and I am very proud of the art they have created.”

Staples art teachers have also been working to make sure all students can continue their art by ensuring access to art supplies while home.

“The majority of the students have art supplies, especially the more advanced students,” Eskell said. “Some have taken supplies home because we knew there might be a pause in in-school learning and I had prepared them so they could continue their work at home.”

As for Eskell, her own art is being displayed in two virtual galleries and continues to update the Staples Visual Art website to showcase her student’s work too.

Students such as Nina Driscoll ’22 have used this time to focus on the next steps in their art.

“Quarantine has definitely given me more time to focus on my website and try new things like resin art that I hadn’t done before,” Driscoll said. “I was able to enter a few of my pieces in a regional art contest which I don’t think I would have done otherwise.”

Art by Nina Driscoll ’22

Many Staples students have also taken this time to launch creative businesses, such as Jillian Levin ’21, who has begun selling her art through Instagram.

“This has been something I have wanted to do for a while but with school itself and extracurricular activities I’ve just never had the time,” Levin said.

With each customer order taking anywhere from two to eight hours, the business, @customcanvasesbyjill on Instagram, is no simple one but it does bring her enjoyment and even relaxation.

Levin has also set her sights on using her art to make an impact. Interested in decreasing mental health stigma, Levin has decided to donate some of her proceeds to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, additionally teaming up with Sydney Newman ’21 and Emmy Bassler ’21 with a giveaway with the creations the three have been making.

Art by Jillian Levin ’21
Art by Tori Greenberg ’20

Eliza Oren ’21 is also converting her quarantine boredom into creativity for a good cause.

Oren has used all her profits made from her Instagram account @beads_by_eliza towards the Gillespie Center food pantry, having raised $2,272 so far. Left, necklaces made by Oren.

*all featured art was done during quarantine