By: Sophia David, Editor-in-Chief '21
Mr. Bowers is a new art teacher at Friends’ Central this year. He teaches Studio Art 1, Studio Art 2, Design Evolution, and Foundations of 2D Art. However, his favorite thing to teach is painting. “You ever do something and you feel like totally yourself? That’s the way painting is for me. I think it is a really nice way to listen to the world. You have to be totally present, but in a way that’s not about you,” shares Mr. Bowers. He first became interested in art as a kid, and his interest has continued ever since. Mr. Bowers observes, “Everybody likes art when they art when they are a kid. I have a toddler right now, and just seeing how thrilled he is to make a mark on the page reminds me of just how affirming the act of making is for everybody. I think for me that was really important to maintain throughout my life as a way to be myself.”
Although new to Friends’ Central, Mr. Bowers is not new to art or teaching. Despite working as a corporate salesman between getting his undergraduate and graduate degrees, Mr. Bowers has worked with art throughout his whole career. Mr. Bowers taught art to college students at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel, and the University of the Arts. In addition to this, he taught a couple of summer art programs to high school students. Most recently, he spent time working at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, where he helped artists with their installations. He gave an example of an installation he was involved with at a pier on Delaware Ave. He painted 40 foot long sheets of tyvek sewn together. These turned into giant lampshade-type things that people would spin around with rope, causing them to whirl around beautifully.
Mr. Bowers first learned about Friends’ Central from Ms. Murphy. He recounted this, explaining, “Dierdre Murphy is a friend and mentor. She contacted me about the opening here, and told me how great the students were and how special the School is. I thought maybe it was time to make a change.”
One thing about Friends’ Central that was new to Mr. Bowers is Quakerism. He explained how he has enjoyed seeing the Quaker influence on the culture of the school: “I am not a Quaker, and I wasn’t familiar with it at all, but the thoughtfulness that’s pervasive throughout the school, and the amount of respect that students show each other has been really fun to be a part of.” He explained the benefits that come when this respectfulness extends itself into the art classroom, saying, “I think making art is a vulnerable thing because you are always exposing yourself to judgement. Anything that you make that directly and then display is a sensitive process. If people are trusting each other and are open, it is a lot easier to do.”
Two of the greatest skills art teaches are attention to detail and careful observation. Mr. Bowers explained the value of this, saying, “I think for me just being able to see beyond misconceptions. When you are drawing something, you have to let go of your idea of how it should look and really just pay attention to how it is. I think you can apply that to a lot of things.”
Mr. Bowers described his favorite thing that he has ever made: “When you are an artist, you have to think that the last thing you made is the best thing you made, whether that’s true or not. The last big project I made was this giant mesh belly that hung up on the wall with a deep V and these really long arms that connected to pants. People would walk through the pants. Then they could write down a thought, a hope, a dream, a regret, or something to throw into the world and get rid of. They would toss it into the big belly and it would fill up with all these notes.”
A fun fact about Mr. Bowers that he loves chickens: “I love chickens and I had a pet chicken named Winnie.” He even suggested the the Upper School consider getting chickens on campus. While we’re not sure about the idea of a new campus chicken, we are sure that Mr. Bowers is a tremendous asset to our community. Welcome, Mr. Bowers!