Few careers have been transformed as much in the past year as teaching - and that is particularly true if you happen to teach art. When the pandemic forced teachers on to Zoom last spring, art professors like Marc Schepens ‘93 had to figure out not only how to connect with students remotely but how to translate a visual subject into a virtual world.
Marc is a Lecturer in Art and Painting at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. He teaches drawing in the Foundation Program to first-year students and painting in the graduate program. He is also a painter and printmaker with recent exhibits at the Bromfield Gallery in Boston, Transit Gallery at Harvard Medical School, the Alpha Gallery in Boston, and the Able Baker Contemporary Gallery in Portland, Maine. Like many artists, he has been participating in virtual exhibits for the past year, such as the Area Code Art Fair for contemporary artists with ties to New England and the “Take a Line for a Walk” exhibit at the Musa Collective
At Fay, Marc’s passions were music and art. Those interests converged in Billy Claire’s art room, where Marc explored painting and drawing in “Varsity Art,” learned how to build guitars, and it’s where he and his friends found their on-campus idyll. “The art room was our hangout place. It was our clubhouse and a place to get away from it all,” he recalls.
Marc enjoyed art but never envisioned it as part of his career. After Fay, he went to St. Paul’s and then to Georgetown, where he pursued a double major in history and French literature. He didn’t take any art classes but spent a lot of time in museums and galleries in D.C. and France during a year abroad program. “I was under the impression that there were no careers in art, so I shied away from it.” But several unfulfilling years working in financial services convinced him that the business world wasn’t for him, and that if he was going to work at something 40 hours a week, it should be in a field where he felt inspired and engaged. Marc went back to school to get his Master in Fine Arts degree in painting at Boston University. Since then, he has been teaching at Boston University and Bunker Hill Community College.
A self-described Luddite, Marc has spent the past year getting used to the various digital platforms that allow him to balance the needs of students who are in-person, synchronous but remote, and asynchronous and remote all at the same time. “I went into the pandemic thinking that we cannot teach art remotely, but I’m less cynical now,” he notes. “We can still teach art, but what we teach and how we teach it has to change.” Marc enjoys connecting art to his interests in literature and history and has found remote learning to be helpful in that regard. “It’s so efficient to pull up images and make those associations and to share them fluidly with the class.” He has also found that building a community within his art classes - whether students are in-person or online - is essential to success. “Students aren’t there to share perfect drawings; that’s not how they learn. They need to get comfortable sharing their successes and their failures and talking about them.”
A silver lining of the pandemic for Marc has been the amount of time he has dedicated to his painting. Working from home instead of commuting into the city has given Marc greater control over his daily schedule, and he has been able to spend more time in the studio. Marc’s paintings are made from the daily rituals of waking, walking, and painting. These acts of repetition and routine are similar to the cycles of nature, and Marc echoes this in the pictorial structure of space, light, and the seascape.
Marc lives with his wife, children, and dog by the ocean in Nahant, MA. You can view Marc’s work on his Instagram page at www.instagram.com/marcschepens