PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) — 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 attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, San Francisco 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.
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.
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.
While teaching is a big part of Bowman’s life, he also does art showings.
“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 thick 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.”