Community Service Doesn’t Stop in Pandemic for Paskell ’81, ’96MEd

By Caitlin T. Burns | October 6, 2020
A group of students and their teachers posing with each other with pieces of yarn items on a table

Paskell at the School for the Deaf in Ghana, Africa.

How do you serve the community with art when a pandemic forces learning and activities online? Adjunct Professor of Education Linda Ruth Paskell ’81, ’96MEd spent the summer pulling on her global connections to answer this question.

Previously, students in Paskell’s “Artist in the Community” courses would spend part of the semester working with organizations in the community to use art as a tool for healing, learning, and growing. This year, while Paskell’s students may not physically be in these communities, they’re still using art to help others.

“Since we can’t go into the community, we are going to give back to the community,” said Paskell, who has developed new art projects that can be done at home, recorded tutorials on how to do them, and organized and shipped art supplies over the summer. “My mantra is HOPE: ‘Help Other People Excel’. That’s what we’re doing here.”

An abstract work of art showing landscape, mountains, a tent, and the sun rising in the background

Tin art created by Arcadia University student Alyssa Mclean ’22

Two sections of the “Artist in the Community” courses will have students making tin art, which uses magazines as a canvas, a hot glue gun to draw a pattern, and aluminum foil and black paint to create a textured design. Once completed, these projects will be donated to a homeless shelter and a women’s domestic violence shelter that Paskell has previously worked with for this course.

Additionally, a third section of the “Artist in the Community” course will be working on an art project over Zoom with students from Our Lady of Confidence, which has sites in Willow Grove and Glenside and serves children with Down Syndrome. While the classes are conducting regular Zoom meetings, each class is also working on a surprise art piece for the other group of students. Paskell meets with each group individually and works with them on the separate art projects; at the end of the semester, the Our Lady of Confidence and Arcadia classes will reveal their project to each other. 

A rug with yellow packets of mail on top with the addresses blurred and other pieces of art


Paskell is also teaching a new Honors Program course, “The Color of Poverty,” where students paint tote bags from Arts for the Nations in Denver, Colorado. Over the summer, after receiving the bags from Arts for the Nations, Paskell shipped them to students with all the paint supplies to decorate them. After the project is finished, these bags will be returned to Paskell through a pre-paid envelope and she will stuff them with art supplies and donate them to the School for the Deaf in Ghana, Africa.

“It’s a good distraction from the circumstances we are facing, and exciting for our students to think that they can still make a difference globally as these projects go from Arcadia to Africa,” said Paskell. “In this very unique semester, we need a bit of inspiration and hope.”