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Finding Comfort in "Illustration Home Companion" Project

By Mellany Armstrong

As a way to help his senior Illustration students cope with the unease of being apart from their classmates because of the coronavirus, Professor Richard Harrington asked them to create artwork featuring the pets who keep them company now that they are working from home.

He calls it "Illustration Home Companion."

"The project came about at the start of our very first class meeting using Zoom when it seemed the first thing everyone wanted to see was each other's pets," Harrington said. "Of course, most of us have pets that like to make themselves at home in our studio and work spaces, so that was a rather easy task. Even though we sometimes find our pets to be aggravating, they do provide comfort, and in the case of this project, inspiration as well."

As the instigator of the project, Harrington created his own illustration of his two rescue cats, Cookie and Herbie, and presented it for critique during the Zoom class sessions along with the students' work.  For students who don't have pets, he suggested they  draw a stuffed animal or something that they keep near them in their studio space.

Bri Cronin completed a very detailed illustration of her two cats, Beemo and Finn, and her rabbit, Cookie.

"(They) have made this period of self-isolation a bit more interesting," she wrote in her artwork. "Whether my pets understand personal space or not, they bring me joy during these uncertain times, and I love them for it."

Stephanie Weinger, who would like to pursue a career creating educational wildlife media, featured her cat in an illustration she called "Anatomy of Akeya." Arrows point out the chompers, sniffer and toe beans of "Baby Keeks."

"I thought (the project) was really cute," Weinger said. "My Illustration class was trying to think of a collaborative thing to do, and the next day Rich told us about his idea. People were all showing our cats on the video chat. It was good timing, and we all love our companions."

Harrington would like to get more students and faculty involved in the project, and has plans to compile the illustrations in a zine.

Published on April 14th, 2020