Teaching and learning

·8 min read

Sep. 3—Chase Bowman found a love for art at the young age of just five years old when he entered a coloring contest and won it.

Bowman is a Mercer County native who is originally from Matoaka and a graduate from the 1998 class at Princeton Senior High School.

He is now an Associate Professor at Concord University (CU) for art, and he is going into his eighth year teaching there for this academic year.

"I really enjoy the job," said Bowman. "It gives me a social outlet because I get to talk to people; otherwise, I would just be in the studio all day."

Bowman works in the art studio eight to 10 hours a day because he does not only teach but also sells and shows his pieces at art galleries around the country.

"Right now, I have pieces in two galleries," he said. "There are some at the Live In Gallery in Brooklyn, New York and some at the Bloomfield Richwood Gallery in Richwood, West Virginia.'

The Richwood gallery actually opened Bowman's showing on August 25.

Bowman's art styles is more traditional in supplies and technique which is what he thinks makes his work unique. He specializes in pen and ink drawing and watercolors and illustrations.

While Bowman loves doing art, showing it, and teaching it, he did not always see art as something he could do full time.

"I've always done art, but I'd never though of art as a professional practice until I was about 18, and that's really because for better or worse, young artists aren't really strongly encouraged to pursue art as a career," Bowman explained.

Bowman says a lot of the discouragement around the art field stems from the fact that many people believe there is not much money to be made in the practice, but Bowman said that is just not true at all.

He says that the only thing needed to be successful in the art field is drive and some sense of seriousness.

"That is the advice that I would give to anyone looking to pursue art as a career." Bowman said. "It's fun, you can play around with it, it's a joyful experience, but if you don't have a level of seriousness practicing it everyday, it's going to be very difficult."

Bowman decided he was going to be serious about art at 18 when he was decided to go to an art school that he chose so he would not have to take a math class because he really just did not like math.

Bowman attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, San Fransisco Art Institute, and Marshall University for his undergraduate degree, and he attended the Columbus College of Art and Design for his graduate program.

His graduate program is when he decided that he would pursue teaching in art, but before then, teaching was not his first choice.

"Believe it or not I'm very shy, so teaching was not something I thought I would enjoy," said Bowman. "The thought of talking to people in front of a classroom really scared me, but when I started doing it, I made a very pointed decision to make my class very conversational."

Bowman found that by engaging with every individual in his classes, he was able to not only ease his anxiety about talking in front of a lot of people but also make the class more engaging for his students and he could focus on each students needs when it comes to curriculum.

"I don't have the same job every single day of every single year. Every student comes to me, and I have to individualize their learning experience so that they're getting something out of it," said Bowman.

While this is one of his favorite parts of teaching, it can also be one of the one of the most challenging because everyone has different levels and styles that they need to be taught.

"What's hard about it getting people what they need based on what they already have"' Bowman explained. "Art is one of the few things in the world that nobody comes into to learn in a vacuum."

He added, "Everybody has some sort of relationship wth art, and every student comes through here with desires to get something out of it."

Concord is Bowman first higher education teaching position, and he really loves working there.

"Before here (CU), I had done some teaching at secondary schools, and I taught during my graduate school but was supervised during that time," said Bowman.

When he found the position with CU, he was really thrilled to get the opportunity for several reasons.

"I already knew some of the people that worked here, and I respect their work," Bowman said. "The proximity was good because I'm from here, so it was nice to be able to do something like this that's where I'm from and not have to go super far away."

Bowman said he feel that CU's art program is great not only for himself to be apart of but for the students as well.

"I just think there's a lot of opportunity here with the program," he said.

Bowman also added, "It's got a lot of things going for it, and it's really open to growth."

Many schools have seen significant declines in the use for art programs and are starting to get rid of them, but Bowman said that Concord's program is not seeing a change and that he feels their program is doing really well.

"Our student body is really dedicated," he said. "They're learning and growing. It's nice to have an arts program that is not super far away, so local students or students who don't want to travel super far away can have a nice, solid program close by."

Bowman said he feels really passionate about teaching because of all of the opportunities that come along with it.

"What I really like about teaching is that I actually get to talk to other people and young people. I'm getting older, and I kind of need their help string grounded and in touch with younger people," he said.

Bowman added, "I get to hear all kinds of stuff that I never would've pursued otherwise. They keep me attached to the world that I have sort of aged out of."

He also said that he likes it because it keeps him from being isolated.

"If I were left to just doing art, it's not a very social activity, I would be in my studio by myself for 23 hours a day," Bowman said.

Bowman also has had many students come through the Concord art program and go on to pursue art in careers in various ways.

"The good thing about art is that it's open ended, and what I like about the younger generation is that they have a wide open world and new opportunities and new ways to show their art," he said.

Some of the previous students are graphic designers, tattoo artists, and illustrators just to name a few, and Bowman will actually be in a show with a former student very soon.

While teaching is a big part of Bowman's life, he also does art showings.

"I've been doing this since I was 20 years old, actually, I've been doing it since I was 15, but like I said there has to come a point where you decide to be serious about it," said Bowman.

Bowman said his shyness needed to be put aside for this aspect of his career as well.

"Shyness does not get you into galleries, and you have to put your work out there to become known," he said.

Bowman said he really got into showing his art because he felt that you couldn't keep creating things to just keep them locked away for no one to see and experience.

"I really enjoy getting feedback on my work whether people like it or they don't, trust me, I've had my fair share of people not liking it, which always hurts, but it's good to hear. You grow a really think skin from it," explained Bowman.

He also said he loves hearing back from people because that is the point of art, and he likes to see where his art ends up. One of his pieces actually ended up in Paraguay.

Bowman said his favorite part about art is that it is another way of communication and that it was better than words.

It's a language just like French, Russian, or Japanese," he said. "There's a certain kind of way that you can do it, and it communicates with people."

Bowman added, "It's an imagined thing that communicates the real world."

He also said that this aspect can be the hardest part of doing art. Communicating through art can be difficult, but Bowman said that even if you fail a couple times that you should't give up.

"It's never a waste of time because even if you fail with a piece of art, you're learning something new.

Bowman said he is excited for this school year and to see what he can learn from his students. He will continue to make himself and his students better as time goes on.

— Contact Kassidy Brown at kbrown@bdtonline.com.