Getting Creative at Home during Quarantine

As an artist educator, something that seemed really daunting at the beginning of this whole self isolating period, was the prospect of converting in person classes into something that could be taught and learned online. I teach book arts and printmaking, so like many instructors of visual arts, this came as quite a challenge, mainly in trying to figure out how to deliver meaningful content that fulfilled the objectives of the course, without using special materials or equipment, that students could learn and practice from home.

I also had to consider that many of my students had to move from school based housing to another location, some of them across the country and across the world, and that they may be feeling stressed and despondent. Its a learning as we go situation and I’m trying to be flexible and encouraging for my students. So far its going well and the book arts department at my school is very supportive which really helps. 

This whole thing has sparked conversations about how we show up and in the arts community, where showing up often looks like coming out to exhibitions and other events, the answer to how we show up virtually has been to find ways to support one another from afar and come up with creative ways to share our art and skills with our communities and beyond. Two of the Arts orgs I am involved with, Center for Book Arts and Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop with have begun offering online classes that are either pay what you wish or affordably priced. These classes are being offered as a way to support instructors, the organizations and as a way to continue to support and connect with the communities of these spaces. The online platform allows us to have an even wider reach and connect with people who live too far away to take an in person class too. I took an online paper making class with artist Iviva Olenick last week through the Center for Book Arts that was so much fun. It was awkward and weird and there was a lot of improvising of materials, tools and space, but it was great!   

I have been thinking a lot about the importance of art and creativity as a way to keep our minds engaged, to get introspective, to process feelings of despondence, frustration or anger, and something to just keep us away from screens for a little while. I know more than a few people who have been getting more into cooking, baking bread for the first time, making jam and other preserved foods, sewing masks, picking up drawing or painting, or even journaling and writing more now than ever. There is something about slowing down that allows us to give time to these more creative pursuits and makes us feel the urge to do them too. I am always making art, but this is different because I don’t usually have multiple full days to just focus on my own work. I have been trying to embrace this chance to slow down and focus on projects that bring me joy and let me experiment. What is happening in the world right now feels scary and uncertain, but we will get through it and while many of us are staying home right now we need something to keep us sane, why not try making something?

If you’re unsure where to start, try to make something for 15 minutes and you’ll probably end up working for longer. Work on low pressure projects that make you feel happy and experiment with unconventional materials. 

I am sharing this video about making Pamphlet Bound Zines. I made this a few years ago for an online learning platform called Skillshare, but thought it would be great to share for free now as its easy to get started and make these books at home. I hope you enjoy!