Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



Join the largest creative community established exclusively for visual arts educators, college professors, researchers, administrators, and museum educators.

Join NAEA Renew Membership

« #JournalCare Week 1 Review | Main | Lowered Expectations for Creative Quarantine »

May 10, 2020

Student Art as Insight; Eric Gibbon’s COVID-19 Altered Books

By Michelle Harrell

On the day before remote learning began in March, Eric Gibbons, the Art Ed Guru [], gave his students an Altered Book assignment [] to document their COVID-19 experiences. Each student was given hard-cover books and instructed to create a thematic cover. Each week, students respond to one of the many possible themes provided on his website to share how the Covid Pandemic had changed their lives. From documenting feelings, thoughts, contemporary events, and paying tribute to anyone who passes from sickness, students shared the impact of COVID-19 from their point of view.

Eric’s approach to art education is heavily rooted in the need for personal expression. Learn more about his work and this altered book project at at Eric has created a private Facebook group for art educators for altered books. I want to share just a few images from Eric’s project and the students’ artistic statements to give us insight into the student experience.

Screen Shot 2020-05-07 at 8.37.33 PM

By Maria R.H. “The “white” inside the number and letters is to represent the light at the end of the tunnel we are in, that we are close to ending this. I used the color black because when you’re in a tunnel that's really all you see, darkness, our happiness sort of ended when we noticed this was getting serious.”..

Screen Shot 2020-05-07 at 8.38.24 PM

By Aaron. “For this blackout poem, I took a page from a newspaper and combined words to make sentences... The pandemic has affected my ability to use all the tools I had before because of how I am stuck at home and am unable to reach out with other types of tools.”

Screen Shot 2020-05-07 at 8.37.58 PM

By Niva B. “On Friday, Andrew Lloyd Webber live-streamed the Phantom of the Opera and left it on YouTube for 48 hours. I watched the entire performance multiple times and found that the more I watched it, the more I related to the Phantom. ...”

What can we learn from student art about trauma they are experiencing? In the next week, I’ll feature two art educators on this blog whose backgrounds give us insight. I’ll interview Jodi Aker who is an art therapist and Sara Gant who is a Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Educator. Jodi, Sara, Eric, and Holly make up my team behind our 30 day challenge. Eric has created today’s #JournalCare prompt Student Reflections- Child Within. Consider how youth experience the crisis, respond in your visual journal, and share through social media using #JournalCare.



Eric Gibbons

Thanks so much for highlighting my student’s work to the NAEA. It’s an honor to be considered.

The comments to this entry are closed.