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2020 Trends: Finding Positivity In Challenge With Robert Schoolfield

Robert Schoolfield reflects on his experiences during 2020, finding ways to continue to create and sell artwork despite the pandemic

"I think I am someone who thrives in difficult circumstances. Without them, I may find myself

being lazy, or stagnant. And oftentimes people don’t want to change until life, or things,

become difficult to the point of change being necessary for survival.. or on a less extreme,


So, 2020 has been both positive and challenging. Initially, 2020 started off well for me. I was

selected to be in the Valdosta National in January/February. I was one of the honorable

mentions for that. Then I had a solo show at Area 61 that started at the beginning of March. Area 61 is the gallery that represents me here in my hometown of Chattanooga. I had 44 pieces in this show, and it was the largest showing I had ever done. There were going to be events during the span of this show, and I was really looking forward to the outcome.

As well all know, March is when most of downtown Chattanooga was shut down, which was about one week after the opening reception of my show at Area 61. I wasn’t entirely sure what to think. Was this virus going to clear up within a few weeks? No one really knew what to think besides the scattered stories we were all hearing. I ended up losing my job and found myself in the same situation as many other struggling people.

During this time, I did not abandon art, but I did view some branches of it quite a bit differently. I questioned if the art market would survive. Like myself, I thought many people would save their money as we were all wondering what would happen. I reflected on life more than usual.. thinking about values, without as many distractions.. re-realizing the important aspects of life.

Art is just art. It’s a bunch of stuff, on a canvas (or whatever you’re preferred medium is), and

the true art is me and you. My art is a reflection of everything that makes up who I am, along with all of the unique characteristics that are directly attributed to me. It is my own translation of existence. This is not a new epiphany, but it did lead me to take some actions towards some things I had been gambling within my mind, involving the business side of art. Mostly I decided to be happy, optimistic, and to cherish those around me even more. I was prepared to not sell much art this year.

Surprisingly, 2020 has been an excellent year for me though. You may not have seen that


I ended up getting a sale from the show at Area 61, leading to several more, and that

sporadically happened throughout the year, even one at the most recent AVA exhibition. I also got a job working in the mental health field, which is another passion of mine. I was in a show in Norfolk, VA, where I received a second-place award. And to finish off this year, I am working on a commission piece that I have been fortunate enough to land while making many connections along the way.

I would say that the main reason for any of it, was probably practicing gratitude and positive thinking. Not that I’m like Yoda.. mastering the wisdom of the force or anything, but we’re all here to learn from each other, right? If you aren’t looking for an opportunity, you may not see it. Aside from the tragedies that may be happening around the world, I know that the biggest impact I make is in my personal life with the people I interact with. So, I did more of that, and the other stuff fell into place. Artistically speaking, and in my personal life, 2020 has unexpectedly been one of my best years and I am very grateful for that.

Regardless of what happens, I will always remain true to what I do and honestly reflect that

truth in my creativity."

-Robert Schoolfield, on 2020