Art 600: “Can’t Tell Time” Exhibition Showcases Students’ Post-Covid-19 Creativity

Art 600 students showcased a culmination of their year’s work last Friday in an exhibition called “Can’t Tell Time.” The course, characterized by independent work and a notable degree of freedom, enabled students to explore a wide array of creative interests. With pieces ranging from sculptures, paintings, and embroidery, the students presented a diversity of works, highlighting various mediums and methods the students employed. One of the artists, Vera Zhang ’24, shared insights into the meaning behind the exhibition’s title.

We basically tried to find a theme that resonated with all of our works. And we found, ‘Can’t Tell Time’ showed one not only our exploration of materials because with Covid[-19] and how it hit, there was a sense of loss of time, like we didn’t know what was going on and time went on really weirdly, and we also lost a lot of privileges when it came to working with analog materials. So ‘Can’t Tell Time’ was a reflection of that, but it was also just a reflection of what our generation is like. You know how there’s a joke that Gen Alpha can’t read time and that’s where we got it from because we were looking at what our current state looked like and we wanted to emulate some of that in our art,” said Zhang.

Zhang, who presented two pieces, was heavily inspired by her women’s literature class, where she drew inspiration from novels such as Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs Dalloway.” She cited this class and social media as a major influence on her art work, elaborating on how it shaped her artistic vision.

“I always wanted to explore the theme of just girlhood because it’s a thing on tiktok. It’s always something that’s been interesting. I’ve been making a lot of mood boards, Pinterest boards and stuff like that because it’s always on my mind. So, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to really delve into it, explore it and flesh it out and what it means to me. My women’s [literature] class was a huge catalyst in that because it really challenged my thinking and I learned so much from that class and there’s so much input that there needs to be an output somewhere and the output was my art,” said Zhang.

Anjola Odukoya ’24, another artist, highlighted how she discovered her passion for art relatively recently, during her Upper year at Andover. However, her involvement in Art 600 proved to be a transformative experience, shaping her artistic perspective and personal growth.

“Everyone at Andover is good at something and I was trying to find my own thing. And that’s how I stumbled upon art, and ever since, it’s just affected my life in every way. When I look at something and I think about inspiration — everything around me is inspiration. It definitely just changes the way I see the world and how I look at things… There’s either a stigma about, like, ‘Oh, [art’s] so hard to get into’ and, ‘You have to be born with it.’ But there’s also just that other mentality that is like, ‘It’s really easy.’ But actually being in the class is so much harder than it looks and things take time. We all learn from each other.” said Odukoya.

In an email to The Phillipian, Tasnia Begum ’26, an attendee to the annual Art 600 shows, highlighted the unique Covid-19 pandemic theme and how that specifically connected to this year’s seniors’ experiences during their time at Andover.

“I loved attending the Art 600 show this year! When I heard about the event earlier that week, I planned to go… I loved seeing the diverse mediums people chose to explore. I also enjoyed the music, congratulatory messages, and pride? I look forward to seeing the Art 600 show each year to celebrate students and friends’ talent and how they explore the world. When I arrived there, I learned that the theme was post-Covid-19 which, to me, felt perfect for many of their experiences. I recognized [the] disconnect but happiness between each of their pieces,” said Begum.

Overall, the artists worked together throughout the entire process in order to bring the final exhibition to life. Zhang noted how this year in the course pushed her to reach her artistic maximum potential and how the collaborative nature of the class allowed students to handle different aspects of the exhibition.

“It’s really challenged me to work beyond the constraints that I’m used to. So, like, I’m a pretty fast painter, so I don’t really like to spend more than like two days on a piece. I spent three months on one piece. So, that really challenged me to like, keep looking, keep working at it, keep chipping at it, keep chipping away at it… The class split into groups. So, one was in charge of promotional activities which included making the promotional video and postcards and posters and stuff like that. And then the other main bulk was curatorial, which was people decided where, where things should go where, basically, and how we wanted the room to lay out,” said Zhang.