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Artist of the Issue: Chase Stevens-Scanlan

Rose Robertson ’24 Assistant Arts Editor Anika Gurjar ’24 Campus Correspondent
Hopkins fine artist Chase Stevens-Scanlan ’22 grew up in a family of scientifically-minded artists who nurtured her own artistic instincts. Her relationship with art has blossomed gradually; in her own words, Stevens-Scanlan “was just always into it.”
This family influence is multi-generational. Stevens-Scanlan explained: “My grandma painted a lot and so did my mom, and both of them are women in STEM, and I like to consider myself as a woman in STEM. So it’s almost like a tradition to be a girl in my family in STEM, but also do some art on the side.” While Stevens-Scanlan noted that she derives most of her inspiration “from other people, other artists,” she reaffirmed the profound effect that her mother has had on her artistry. She expressed that her main influence is “definitely [her] mom, in terms of seeing art actually done.”

Within the Hopkins community, Stevens-Scanlan cited Visual Arts teacher Derek Byron as a prominent influence: “He’s an architect, so I guess that’s a little different [from my field of art], but it’s still similar, so seeing someone actually go into art is cool.” She also admires the work of artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard of the Rococo Era, and architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Stevens-Scanlan stated, “[Wright] has really cool buildings that are all about connecting people to nature, and that’s something that I try to put into my art as much as I can.”

Working with the fine arts, Stevens-Scanlan shared the details of her artistic process and preferred media: “ I’m always drawing and sketching and coming up with ideas, so most of what I do is probably in pencil, but when I actually want something to hang up in a gallery or submit to a portfolio, then I’d probably say oil paint or oil pastel.” In fact, Stevens-Scanlan is currently crafting “a 6x3 oil painting, and it’s just light on water, which is super cool” and cultivating her college portfolio. When asked about a piece that she is particularly proud of, she mentioned one of her recent works showcased in Hopkins’ Reflections exhibit: “I like one of my pieces in the gallery that’s this girl, and I have one rendering of it in pencil and one in oil pastel.” She has a preference for portraits, and added that a dream project would be to “do a huge painting, like the size of a big wall, that includes portraiture.”

Stevens-Scanlan appreciates art as a way to express varied facets of herself, such as her experience as a woman and her dream of going into marine conservation science, while balancing these aspects with her aesthetic vision. She noted her conflicting concerns about how meaningful her art is, and shared some insight into her thematic tendencies: “I have such a big issue where I’m like ‘Oh my God, my art has no meaning, what am I gonna do?!’ But I think my favorite thing to do is making art about being a young woman in the world.” She often takes another route, favoring the visual value of her work. “I like making art that is just pretty to look at. It has no meaning behind it; that’s fun too,” she said.

The right environment helps prime Stevens-Scanlan for creativity. She described the connection between her workspace and her love of nature: “I do most of my art in this room in my house that is all windows. I don’t think I realized it until now, but I definitely like that room because it’s so airy; you can see all the nature.” She remarked upon her attempts to do art on the beach, but ended up prioritizing practicality over her loyalty to the ocean: “It’s totally corny, but I love the beach, so I try to do art at the beach, but it’s honestly so inconvenient. You have to lug all your stuff out there. I just can’t do it outside.” The soundtrack to her artistic endeavors consists of music by Phoebe Bridgers, Sufjan Stevens, David Bowie, Queen, and Taylor Swift. Stevens-Scanlan even proclaimed herself “the biggest Swiftie ever.” She added, “All the artists that come up after listening to Phoebe Bridgers, they are definitely my while-doing-art music.”

Stevens-Scanlan advised other students to “still try and make your schedule academically rigorous; if you want to take all your STEM classes, still take them. But, make sure from the get-go you make room for art, because it’s so easy to disregard the art classes.” She argued against the overshadowing of art by other academic considerations: “Just take the art class, it’s still gonna look good for your college application, and you're doing something you actually like.” Reflecting on the importance of consistency, she imparted, “I took AP Art History last year rather than an actually interactive art class; I just wasn’t drawing as much at all and I think I’ve gotten back into my swing of things...had I been just sketching ten minutes a day back then, my skills would have been so much better and the transition into Advanced Studio Art would’ve been so much easier.” Stevens-Scanlan left her fellow artists with a final piece of wisdom: “Do as much art as you can, even if it's ten minutes of sketching a day. It definitely relieves stress and it’s good for practice.”

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