St. Charles East art teacher unites with mentor for art exhibit at Marmion Academy

Retired art teacher Robert Wilson, left, and St. Charles East High art teacher Gregory Chapman, right, on Sunday were at a reception for their art exhibit at Marmion Academy in Aurora.

Retired art teacher Robert Wilson and St. Charles East High art teacher Gregory Chapman know the importance of passing on the love of art.

Wilson, who has been recognized as a top ceramic educator, taught ceramics at Barrington High School from 1968 until his retirement in 2005. One of his students was Chapman, who teaches art at St. Charles East High School.

Wilson and Chapman are participating in an art exhibit at Marmion Academy in Aurora that will be on display through Feb. 24. Appropriately, the name of the exhibit is “Teachers and Students.”

On Sunday, those attending a reception for the exhibit had the opportunity to meet Wilson and Chapman and talk to them about their work. Along with Wilson’s ceramics work, the exhibit also showcases Chapman’s colorful artwork.

Chapman also works with clay as a medium. Among the artwork on display at the exhibit are two ceramic pieces that Wilson and Chapman collaborated on.

Wilson and Chapman also are friends and will exchange ideas with each other. Wilson said he isn’t surprised that Chapman became an art teacher.

“Art has always been a part of his life, even when he was in high school,” the 77-year-old Wilson said. “He was always at his best when he would come into the art rooms.”

Chapman agreed.

“It was such a different energy than the rest of the school,” he said. “People like him, the art teachers, were standing at the door, greeting kids as they came in. You could tell that they really loved what they were doing. They also would make their own work along with the kids. All of us would work on art together.”

Chapman, 54, who has been teaching in the St. Charles School District since 1993, said he wanted to become an art teacher because of Wilson.

“He kind of took me under his wing,” Chapman said. “Having this exhibit with him is surreal, 40 years later. I’m teaching what he taught me.”

Among those attending the reception was one of Chapman’s students, St. Charles East junior Ky McBride.

“He just pushes me in interesting directions with my art,” McBride said. “He gives students free rein to kind of do what they want to do. I enjoy being able to get his feedback and always have that time during the day to just focus on art.”

McBride was enjoying the exhibit.

“I find that really intriguing, a teacher and student exhibit,” McBride said.