The whole world in one big ball of stress and anxiety as coronavirus continues to spread. Let’s talk about how we can use art to deal with all of this.
Hello, and welcome to the Art Class Curator Podcast. I am Cindy Ingram, your host and the founder of Art Class Curator and the Curated Connections Library. We’re here to talk about teaching art with purpose and inspiration from the daily delights of creativity to the messy mishaps that come with being a teacher. Whether you’re driving home from school or cleaning up your classroom for the 15th time today, take a second, take a deep breath, relax those shoulders, and let’s get started.
Hello everybody. This is Cindy Ingram from Art Class Curator. And before we get into this episode, I want to tell you about a new program that we’re going to do to help us with the coronavirus. I actually had the idea for this after I recorded this episode. Because as you’ll see at the end of the episode, I started to think about ways of adding more art into our lives during this time.
So what we are going to do on Art Class Curator is have the You Need Art Challenge. So what we’re going to do every day on Instagram, which is instagram.com/artclasscurator, we are going to do a daily challenge task that is somehow related to a work of art that will give you a little creative break, a chance to use your mind in a different way, and to add some lightness and joy into this rough time.
The challenge is starting on Saturday, March 14th. So if you are listening to this afterwards, you can check out the past prompts at instagram.com/artclasscurator and get caught up with the challenge or just jump right into whatever day it is. We’re going to run this for at least 30 days as long as we feel the need for this, which I have a feeling will be a little while. I look forward to seeing everything that you come up with. All right, so let’s get into this episode.
Hey everybody, Cindy Ingram from Art Class Curator. In today’s episode, I have to tell you, I had a completely different plan of what I was going to say. Then, I scrapped it because I just couldn’t manage to form a complete sentence about that topic. So I’m going to talk about that, about how that happened.
So right now, I am in my bathroom because my children are home. They are on Spring Break this week. Their schools have been canceled next week for an extended Spring Break because of the coronavirus. My husband is working from home because of the coronavirus. So I have a house full of people. My 10-year-old daughter, last I checked, was in the backyard swinging and singing ‘Into the Unknown’ from Frozen at the top of her lungs. I was like, “That is really appropriate,” because it’s kind of how I feel right now. ‘Into the Unknown’ should be sort of our theme song for the coronavirus and what we’re doing here. It’s just completely unknown and uncertain.
I thought I had a handle on sort of my role in helping teachers through this, and so I created a podcast episode. My podcast episode was going to be about tips for taking your class online for e-learning. Because I do have like four years experience, not counting my Art Class Curator experience, of teaching online. That’s what I did when my kids were babies, is I worked for one of those homeschooling companies. It helped provide a curriculum for online charter schools, and homeschool students, and stuff like that, and I was an art teacher online. I have a lot of ideas about that.
But as I was talking about it, I just felt just completely stifled in what to say. Because I don’t know about you, but I am just feeling really overwhelmed about everything that’s going on right now with the coronavirus. So I just felt like talking it out and trying that. I’m not exactly sure. I don’t have an outline like I usually do. I don’t have things I’m wanting to teach or a message that I’m trying to get across here. But I just felt like there’s so much noise right now on social media, and on the news, and in every conversation I’m having with every person about it that I am getting to the point where I’m getting a feeling. The term I used earlier with my team is I was like, “I’m trying to create this podcast episode. But really, all I want to do is crawl into my closet, cover myself with blankets, and come out in two months. I feel like an anxious pile of goo.” But maybe if I go into my closet, cover myself in blankets I can maybe form to be a person and just sort of hibernate, you know? So that’s where I’m at.
So many people are with so many different opinions. Hey, we’re going to go on this cruise and risk it anyway even though I have elderly parents who have health issues or … It’s like all of this stuff, and you don’t know who to believe. You don’t know what information you can trust. You don’t know what it means for your family, for your community, for your parents. I know a lot of us in my age are especially worried about our parents. It’s pretty terrifying.
So I’m trying to think of what I can do. And what I can do is I can donate to the food bank. I can keep my family, practice my social distancing. I’m not going to be going to NAEA. They have not canceled it yet. I am pretty sure they will. If they don’t, I think that’s crazy. But, we can each do our individual part the best that we can.
But, I also know that my resources on Art Class Curator have the ability to assist in this time of need. So we have decided to open up our membership, the Curated Connections Library. We decided to just open that up. It’s usually closed, only open a couple of times a year because that’s … It’s easier to segment for the selling part of my brain versus the content creation part of my brain when I have those things separated. But in the instant in … There’s a lot of people who need things right now that we are going to keep that open. So if you go to artclasscurator.com/join, you can learn about it. It’s our membership with tons of art appreciation resources right at your fingertips.
The next thing that we’re going to do is create plans for those of you who are moving to online learning. So a lot of you are forced to take … You’re not in the classroom anymore. You have to deliver your lessons online in some sort of format. So we’re going to create plans within the membership that uses the resources from the membership, points you to the things that we think will work best, and then give you a place to start and go from there.
I am feeling the need especially to encourage art in this time. I just realized last night. I was getting ready for bed or I was laying … I usually read in bed before I go to sleep. I had just finished a book so I didn’t know what to read yet, and so I’m just sort of scrambling. Then I get sucked into all the news articles and news article after news article until I realized at some point that I’m like, “I am completely swept up.” And I didn’t necessarily realize how swept up I was, but I was like, “This is all I’ve thought about today.” I looked back on the day and I’m like, “Coronavirus was like 100% what I thought about that day,” which is really interesting because I’m not usually someone who gets worked up about the news and about the current events, that I usually have trust that everything’s going to be fine. And I do have trust that everything’s going to be fine, but that I realized that I was letting all of this weigh on me too, too heavily.
So I think what we need right now is art, that we need an escape. We need a place to process our feelings. I have someone in one of my groups that I’m in, it’s a mastermind group for business, and she is a coach. She also has her own mastermind groups, and she has been leading conversations within her community about how they feel and giving them a space to just to share that feeling, and to be brave, to be courageous, and share how they’re feeling in an accepting way. Because right now, any viewpoint you take or any … As you’re wiggling through this, it’s all up for criticism.
And I think it’s really important to remember that how everyone deals with this is unique and how everyone deals with this is … Someone else might be super angry about the administration’s responses where someone else is super scared because they have an autoimmune disorder, or their parents have asthma, or … And then someone else is threatened by their lack of freedom by this whole social distancing thing so they just go out and do things anyway. Everybody’s going to have different feelings about this. And I think if we had more art, we can think our way through this, and express our way through this, and feel our way through this I think in a more effective way.
So I’m not sure what that looks like. I’m not sure. I’m not sure what that means, honestly, for what I’m going to do moving forward. I know that I personally am going to make a commitment to myself. I’m tearing up when I’m about to say this because that makes me know that … Anytime I tear up when I’m about to say something, I know I’m on the right track. But, I know for myself I am going to make a more concerted effort to do something creative in this time. I’m going to break out my paints. I’m going to maybe write some new lessons. I’m going to do something that fulfills me creatively, even if I can’t go to the art museum, which I learned just canceled all its programs in Dallas. They’re still open for now. But, I think it’s important that we remember that in times of great stress, in times of emotional upheaval that we can use art in a way that is meaningful.
I know something’s going to happen from this, from Art Class Curator. We’re going to think about what we can do as a community to help keep people engaged in the art, because that’s going to be a soothing thing for people. I don’t know what that looks like just yet, but I just know that that’s what I’m thinking about. I would love to hear your ideas. I really think that we could do something great in this time. I honestly, like just as I’m talking about it, I feel more sure that this is what we should be doing. But, I would love your feedback on if you have ideas on what we can do to help this, not only for our students but for ourselves and for each other, that we need art. I’m going to keep thinking about that. So keep looking for my emails if you’re not signed up to get the emails. We’re going to come up with it. We’re going to come up with something that we can … that can tie us together.
So for those of you who are doing online learning, I’m do want to share the tips that I was going to share in my original podcast episode that was just far too tactical and not enough emotions, and I think that is generally … When I get to tactical and not enough emotions, you know I’m not usually on the right track there. I’m a feelings person.
My biggest tips for you for if you are in that situation is to do not forget that no matter what curriculum you choose, whether you go into the Curated Connections Library, membership, artclasscurator.com/join, and you do art connection lessons where students are interpreting art or you send them to Khan Academy and you have them learn about art history, or you send them to how-to-draw videos, or you send them to anything else on the internet, that whatever you choose to choose it thoughtfully, to not do coloring sheets and busy work. Don’t just do something that is just going to keep them busy, but this is a really good time to address those emotional, social needs that they’re going to have. Because if we’re feeling uneasy about it, our children are empathetic. They feel what we’re feeling. They are picking up on all of this. And they might not be sharing those fears with you or with anybody else, but they’re feeling them just as much as we are, and they’re probably more confused. Because we’ve got all the news media, they’ve got just what snippets they hear from adults. So, I think it’s really important to help our students through this.
I love schools that are passing out lunches, making sure that the kids are still fed. That is huge. But, also think about those emotional needs. So when I was teaching online, it often wasn’t about the curriculum, it was about connecting with the kids. So it was reaching out every day, sending them an email, a class newsletter, sending them a cute little ChatterPix of Mona Lisa but with your voice over it telling them to have a good day. Little things like that can foster that connection.
Another thing I would really look to is if you are using a Google Classroom or another LMS that you build in classroom discussion, so places where the kids can share their feelings, share their thoughts. Maybe you put an artwork up and they talk about it. Or maybe you just ask them how they’re feeling about this or you have them draw a picture of how they feel about all of this, that using this as an opportunity to find ways to connect socially when there is social distances.
We’ve got the amazing internet on our hands. And I know a lot of kids don’t have the internet. A lot of districts are working on getting Chromebooks to the kids and stuff like that. But, really think about ways to foster connection, and you can do that through your curriculum. You can do that through art assignments. You can do that through what artwork you choose to show them and what you talk about. You can also do online classes in person, like a live action class online. So you can use a program called Zoom. You can use a program called Electa Live. I’ve used both of those. And you can do online office hours. Every day from 10 to 11 you’re in there to answer questions, just to chat with a student if they need someone to talk to, just ask how they’re doing, you know? I think all of that is super important in this time of instability and uncertainty.
What can ground us is our relationships with other people, having places to go. And I think that is what led me to record this is because I was feeling that way. I was feeling totally my anxious ball of goo that I said earlier. I reached out to two of my teammates on Art Class Curator, also my friends, and I was like, “I can’t.” I was like, “I don’t know what to do. I feel completely stuck,” and they said … Madalyn, who is on my team, she says, “Be real. Say you’re feeling like goo and go from there. She said, “Be you.” And I was like, “Okay. I’m going to do that.” So that’s why I am recording this. Just that’s it.
I hope that what you got from this episode is that you’re not alone, that I want to challenge you to think about ways to support yourself through this stressful time. You’re at home with your kids at home when you can’t go anywhere. How are you not going to go insane? Think about yourself and your self-care and use art as a way to creatively address how you’re feeling. And give yourself a break. Give yourself grace. No one knows what they’re doing right now. I’m really inspired by a lot of the solutions I’m seeing out there in the world right now. I know that we’re going to see a lot of human greatness come out of this. And let’s make art the thing that brings us together in our communities and with your students.
So that’s all I’ve got right now. I will be back hopefully next week with some ideas in place for how we can make this happen. Thank you so much for listening, and for understanding where I’m at, and helping me realize that I don’t have all the answers. None of us have all the answers. And that is okay. So, thank you so much. Have a wonderful day. Stay healthy, stay safe, wash your hands, you know, all those things. Alright. Bye.
Thank you so much for listening to the Art Class Curator Podcast. Help more art teachers find us by reviewing the podcast and recommending it to a friend. Do you have a work of art that changed your life? If so, send me your art story. You can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voicemail to (202) 996-7972.
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Today’s art quote comes from Bruce Garrabrandt, and he says, “Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” Thank you so much for listening. Have a great day.
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COlleen C Eckles
Dear Cindy – Thank you for being real and expressing what I am feeling! This is such a rollercoaster time…but also a time of opportunity. I already see humanity stepping up and random acts of kindness happening. This could be a time of great creativity due to staying in, slowing down…I plan to use my time creatively because I have lots of time now. I will definitely use your advice for connection with the students…the human connection with humor and kindness. #becreative#bekind