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L&C Professor Writes Love Letters to Alton Businesses in Watercolor

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Article by: Louise Jett, L&C Media Services, ljett@lc.edu

GODFREY – Inspired by her love of Alton, Lewis and Clark Community College Professor Chrissie Chapman has created a series of paintings featuring local businesses entitled “Downtime Painting Downtown” to help boost morale and raise money for the struggling Main Street staples.

“I teach a course on happiness, and one of the core components of happiness is connection and acts of kindness,” Chapman said. “I thought that I could do an act of kindness from afar (while we were on Stay at Home orders) by making paintings of downtown businesses, giving them the paintings as gifts and also giving them a shout out on Facebook.”

Postcard-sized prints of the paintings are being sold by Chapman at https://www.chrissie-chapman-art.square.site, and all of the :Downtime Painting Downtown” profits will go to Alton Main Street, a non-profit group that supports downtown businesses.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude that Chrissie has chosen Alton Main Street as the beneficiary of this fundraiser,” said Alton Main Street Executive Director Sara McGibany. “I saw her first few paintings on my Facebook feed and asked if I could share them to our page, since many people who follow our organization are historic preservation enthusiasts who love Alton’s historic architecture. Little did we know that we would get such an amazing response; people immediately began asking if they could purchase the images, and Chrissie has worked around the clock to make this happen so quickly.”

The original paintings will be on display in the windows of Jacoby Arts Center from June 5-30 as part of the “Artfully Local” show. After the exhibit, the paintings will be donated to the businesses which are depicted in them.

“By buying locally and encouraging others to buy locally we are saying, ‘We need you here, we appreciate you being here, and we want you to know we are thinking about you during these hard times,’” Chapman said. “I appreciate all the encouragement I have received while completing this project. A special thanks goes out to the Alton Office Depot for its support."

Chapman teaches reading, English, business English, science of happiness and professional development courses on pedagogy and assessment at Lewis and Clark, where she has worked since 2001.

She and her students have worked together to create several campaigns aimed at helping others including a “Hate Has No Home Here” campaign, “LC has Heart” initiative and the “Is this Love?” exhibit, which promoted healthy relationships. 

Her students created a yoga/meditation/prayer/quiet room on campus. They lobbied for funding for the “Send Silence Packing” group to come to campus (as a suicide awareness group for Active Minds).

Last year, her students created a “What Were You Wearing?” exhibit to help bust myths about rape, and a student created ad campaign called, “Don’t Stand by. Stand Up” campaign which highlighted students standing up against rape culture.

Chapman says that she is always amazed at how kindhearted and willing to help others her students are. 

“I believe we should take a lesson from my students and try to incorporate acts of kindness into our lives as a regular practice,” Chapman said. “Being kind to others really does bring you happiness.”