March 12th.. it started like most days. We were finishing up a whimsical Dr. Seuss project. I was thinking about creating an Earth Day bulletin board. Thoughts of the art show projects were swirling in my head. Ceramic and sculpture projects to plan. Trying to keep organized.
There had been this sense of uncertainty that had been building for weeks. Events were starting to get cancelled. I think everyone was becoming increasingly nervous and fearful of the future.
When the news hit at the end of the day that our school was closing, I had a rush of emotion, energy, and a strong desire to capture every last artwork that would be created on this day. I began snapping pictures, saying goodbye to my students. This was hard. In the hallway as I was about to leave for the day, a teacher said, “We are witnessing history.”
For those first two weeks, things moved at both a slow and frenetic pace. I was able to do some clay and painting projects with myself and my kids. I got way deeper into cooking and baking! Together, my principal and specials team created a plan going forward. I created daily drawing challenges for my students so that they still felt connected with art class. When I saw those initial pictures coming through with the students and their work, it made me feel so happy and hopeful.
As our new digital format took shape, I was excited to return to my design roots and continue making and then editing instructional videos for art projects, which has been so much fun. I can’t say I am the YouTube star my sons want me to be, but I try.
When I was able to return to the school and see my classroom again, I had a few moments to collect materials and create an entirely new curriculum that would continue indefinitely through the last ten weeks of the school year.
What I decided to do, was to create a theme for each week, pull from staple projects and create some new projects that would include found objects and materials that families would have access to at home. Clay has been the greatest challenge, as not all of my classes has completed clay projects for the year. So we find substitutes, and we will have to get creative. Below are some artworks the students have been working on over the last three weeks.
Now the big question is... Where do we go from here? Next Wednesday was to be our school’s art and music celebration, the Festival of the Arts. I would normally be in the throes of last minute art show prep right about now.
I decided a week ago to have a virtual art show. I know it will not be the same, but I feel that it is extremely necessary to honor all traditions, even if in a different way. More than ever, as artists, it should be a time to record, reflect and remember what connects us together.