Art in the Time of Corona

The Corona-virus stay-put order has been personally challenging for students and teachers alike. One Weston High teacher, decided to seize all the extra time at home by channeling her and her children’s creative energy into re-creating famous art. Together with her two sons, Liam (aged 8) and Ethan (aged 7) [the names have both been changed for this article], Ms. Amanda Telford has become “Insta-Famous” for her Instagram project, @quarantineartclass

Weston Warhorse had a chance to catch up with Ms. Telford. Here’s what we found out. 

Weston Warhorse: What inspired you to start this project? Why THIS project? 

Ms. Telford: I’m not actually sure. We were bored and I thought it would be funny to recreate the God-Adam piece from the Sistine Chapel. They were on board, so we went from there. I showed them one picture and they went nuts finding things that could work.

WW: How do your kids feel about the project? 

Ms. Telford: Liam says he thinks it’s a good way to do arts and crafts – he loves making the scenery. He also said he likes learning about the artists and interacting with the painting and also seeing the differences between the art we recreate and other art from the same artist. 

Ethan is sometimes more difficult to wrangle, but he likes acting things out. He is also often the one who notices the details and finds ways to represent them. He thought of the green towel for the brain stem in the God Created Adam part of the Sistine Chapel, I wouldn’t have even bothered with it. 

WW: How do you come up with the ideas? How do you decide on which paintings to use? What is the general process of putting one of the pictures together? 

Ms. Telford: We basically search for famous paintings and look for ones with just a few people in them that we can easily recreate. Then, we figure out what parts we can build, what we can do ourselves, and what we’ll need to use stuffed animals or other materials for. 

With the Washington Crosses the Delaware piece, we needed stuffed animals that could stand up on a kayak. That limited our animal choice. The boys wanted to actually go to the river, but we haven’t put the rack on the car yet, so we needed to use the yard. Plus, the water is cold. 

With the Sistine Chapel piece, we needed stuffed animals that looked like angels, and ones that looked like demons. We also needed to figure out what color sheets we could use as background. 

WW: How has it helped your family? You personally? The boys? 

Ms. Telford: It has really helped us fill our time. Both my kids could easily slip into staying on their computers all day long, so this is a way to get them off and push them into the creative zone. I like teaching them something they wouldn’t normally learn. It builds good family memories. 

It has helped them learn certain facts about artists and art. They will always remember what contrapposto and non finito mean, as well as cubism (the Michelangelo and Picasso videos were great for kids, Cellini wasn’t quite as good). We’ve found a lot of great things on YouTube. I think they like learning this stuff. They are certainly engaged by the videos.

WW: What piece of advice would you give to families that are looking for a project to pass the time? 

Ms. Telford: Find something that you all like to do. My kids like arts and crafts, so this was a good fit. Maybe your family likes sports, find something that you can all work on together – re-do famous plays from games or something like that. Or technology – build Minecraft worlds together. Something that you can build on as a family. 

Also, be flexible. My younger son is falling out of love with this project, so we’re trying to find ways to re-engage him. You can’t expect the littles to stay focused forever! Let them do as much as they can, even if it’s not perfect. The more invested they are, the better it will be.

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