As the coronavirus pandemic led to nationwide school closures, students’ learning experiences have altered drastically. At Concord Academy, all facets of student life have transitioned online, and members of the community had to re-imagine academics and extracurricular activities through the lens of distance learning. In light of this collective isolation, one club in particular has taken an innovative step to unite the CA community virtually through art.
Members of CA’s art and literary magazine, the Chameleon, examined the prospect of a new website prior to spring break. According to the club’s co-head, Kincaid DeBell ’21, they “looked at different online templates before the [coronavirus] really started to pick up.” As the scale of the pandemic increased, and it became evident that school would not resume for the spring semester, the Chameleon co-heads felt a greater sense of urgency to create a website.
After a few weeks of development, the club released the new Chameleon website to the CA community on April 16th. “We just started out with a few pages, like a home page and other pages for art and writing,” Kincaid said. “We have been expanding it week-by-week.” The website features a stunning collection of students’ visual artwork submissions, ranging from detailed studies of the human figure to sophisticated collages, along with their poetry and short stories. Since its initial release, the website has been updated with three new pages dedicated to inspiring the community artistically in light of the pandemic.
One of the new additions, entitled “COVID Creations,” features student artwork made during the quarantine. Another new page contains a list of writing prompts, like “draw or write about a place that [they] cannot return to right now.” The Chameleon also added a section to the website called “Outside Artists,” a page that displays art created by artists outside the immediate CA community, such as CA Track and Field coach, Joan Konuk. This page not only serves as a source of creative inspiration, but it also introduces the community to more artists.
When school returns to normalcy, the Chameleon plans to develop the website in conjunction with its usual magazine. The club wishes to integrate videos of performance art, such as music, theater, and dance, into their online presence, since these disciplines cannot always be captured fully on paper. In the meantime, the new website has been successful, and the Chameleon hopes to receive even more submissions in coming weeks. “It can be especially hard to create during a time like this,” Kincaid acknowledged. “But we also love to see a wide range of media and techniques. [CA’s] art really helps us connect while we’re all apart.”