Artsplace is, at its core, a place for the creative to meet and hone their skills … or acquire new ones.
The facility has become a favorite of many over the years, precisely because it caters to people of all experience levels, inviting the novice along with the veteran artist to learn, teach, and enjoy.
It’s gratifying to see that Artsplace continues to serve the community despite the pandemic and all the constraints put upon it by the virus. Like everywhere else, the facility has had to adapt. They’ve had to figure out a way to accommodate people in a safe environment while also ensuring that student experiences remain fun and inviting. Such goals can often be in conflict with one another.
But if The Herald’s recent visit to Artsplace is any indication, there is no shortage of those seeking to indulge their artistic side. There are still plenty of people who desire to put paint brush to canvas, and see what beauty may emerge.
Yet, Artsplace seems to be attracting new students for an even more basic reason — they want to be around other people. They want to commiserate with their fellow residents. They want the joy that comes only from being in the same building, the same room as other human beings.
The problems caused by the current pandemic would be exponentially worse if not for technology. It’s allowed many to work from home. It’s provided an opportunity for students to stay as up-to-date as possible with their curriculum, despite not being in class full-time. It’s ensured that family and friends currently forced apart during this time can still stay connected in some fashion.
We’d be in a far worse and sorry state today if we didn’t have so much available to us at the click of a computer mouse.
However, what our reliance on computers and other devices over the past year has also taught us is that they remain a poor substitute for real human interaction. Visiting with a loved one over video conferencing isn’t the same as being able to hug them in person, or shake their hand when they arrive at your doorstep. Education that comes via a computer doesn’t include the necessary lessons learned through the day-to-day social interactions between classmates that go beyond the text of a book. And studying how to paint a landscape or use colored pencils to create a beautiful portrait just simply isn’t the same when done alone in the living room as opposed to in a class surrounded by other like-minded artists.
It’s important to remember this as we rapidly approach our official 12th month of dealing with COVID-19. We’ve been asked to change so much of what we do to keep the virus at bay, but we cannot become so comfortable with that change that we forget it truly does require a price be paid.
Yes, our world has been altered, and just as those of us who lived through 9/11 know that a new world dawned on September 12th, 2001 that hadn’t existed two days earlier, generations to come will mark March 2020 as another historic inflection point. But we must strive to ensure that little of what we’ve come to know as the “new normal” becomes permanent. We must look to transition back to an “old normal” as safely and as quickly as possible. Everything from our financial stability to mental health demands it.
Artsplace has always provided an important service to the residents of Cheshire, but in this new pandemic its importance has moved beyond just the world of art. It’s providing a place for people to quench that most natural thirst for social interaction. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, new such oases will emerge and our “new normal” will become a distant memory.