Makerspace Monday: Making Art

Schools are closed across the country. Some states have taken the unprecedented step of closing schools for the rest of the academic year. We are not alone. Aisha Ahmad, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, offers advice for educators (and parents) in these trying times. To make the shift away from feeling lost and overwhelmed, let go of the shoulds and focus on yourself and your needs. Build a support team wherever you are. Only then can you “embrace a new normal” where “your wonderful, creative, resilient brain will be waiting for you.”

Professor Semir Zeki, neurobiologist at the University College London, has more helpful advice for homeschooling families. Zeki discovered that looking at works of art stimulates dopamine, that feel-good chemical your brain makes when you fall in love. Zeki says, “seeking beauty is in fact seeking to reward your pleasure centers.” Let the good feelings begin!

Armchair Tours   

Visit other art museums for more inspiration. Take an armchair virtual tour of the amazing art at the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in Brazil, and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea. Then create your own masterpiece—draw, paint, or photograph a pandemic portrait, still life, or landscape for the children of the future to see.  

Fingerpaint  

Even the youngest children can make art that brings good feelings as they create thumbprint art with paint, paper, and markers or paint their hands to make handprint fish and birds.

Found Art

Can you make art with what you have at home? The Getty Museum thinks you can! They issued a 3-step art challenge on Twitter. “We challenge you to recreate a work of art with objects (and people) in your home.” The steps were simple:  “1. Choose your favorite artwork. 2. Find three things lying around your house. 3. Recreate the artwork with those items.” You can see the results on their Twitter feed. Now it’s your turn. Here’s a link to their art collection so you can get started. What can you find at home to transform into art?

From Chapbook to Zine

View children’s books from long ago in the British Library via Museum Crush. (Yes, that is a pen and ink illustration of a fart riddle in the 1770 edition of The Child’s New Year’s Gift.) Click here to see more pages of this chapbook. Half of each page is upside down because it was meant to be folded, not bound into a book. Today we call this type of folded book a mini-comic or a zine. Make a one-page zine of your own with a fold-out poster on the back.

NGAkids Art Zone App

The National Gallery of Art on Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC has an NGAkids Art Zone app with eight interactive activities inspired by works in the collection of the National Gallery of Art. The app also includes a sketchbook for freehand drawing and a personal exhibition space where users can save and display the art they create with the program.

Rainbows and Teddy Bears Inside and Out

Join the global movement and make a rainbow to place in your front window like the children in Italy did. (They also added the message, “Andrà tutto bene” which means “everything will be fine” in Italian.) Then place a teddy bear in your window, put on your masks, and take a little one outside on a Teddy Bear Hunt (inspired by the picture book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen) to look for teddy bears in other windows.  

Wearable Art (Making a Face Mask)

Officials in some areas are now recommending wearing face coverings in public. Think of it as wearable art. You can make a face mask with a bandana and two rubber bands or an old colorful T-shirt and a pair of scissors. Popular Science has directions for a mask you can sew by hand using a reusable grocery bag and twist ties. If you have a sewing machine at home, use these “expert-approved” face mask sewing directions.

Anastasia Suen reads, edits, and writes books for all ages from her makerspace at home in Northern California.  

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