Bringing new light to the mundane is the work of 3D artist and graduate student Trent Pechon.
Pechon’s teaching style and art have both changed because of COVID-19. Along with his beginning sculpture students at the University of Arizona, he’s been forced to improvise. “I couldn’t bring the table saw home,” he says.
Without full-time access to the campus woodshop or expensive tools, he and his students have adjusted to work with what they do have. Students now create projects made with everyday objects that can be recycled.
The projects are often ephemeral. “Sculpture with rocks, sticks, flowers, petals,” Pechon says — work that will erode with time and weather. “Students take photos of their projects. Art is a very visual form of learning. A time lapse might be the project itself.”
His students are part of “flex in-person” classes in the School of Art, meeting in person once per week. For Pechon’s in-person classes, students usually pick up or drop off projects. The remainder of class time is online. About 25% of art classes are in-person, while 75% are remote.
With so many students working remotely, hallways once bustling with art students and lined with figure drawing sketches are now quiet and bare.
“It’s very different, quiet, sterile. There are hardly any students. Everything was removed from the hallways,” Pechon says.
While Pechon finds some aspects of art-making and -teaching irreplaceable, he’s making it work and heading to the studio regularly. “I miss conversations. You don’t get the random person walking into the studio and giving a critique.”
His approach to teaching online is open. He says, “It’s interesting. I like the transition to learning in a new way. It’s much more conceptual.”
Pechon makes asking for student suggestions part of teamwork, an approach that is representative of his interdisciplinary artwork.
“An artist is an artist,” he says. “Painting, photography. I use whatever medium I feel the need to express the idea through.”