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Art in Times of Crisis

Danny Stock

The GDS visual arts team created this video for students in grades 5-8 to show historical examples of artists working in times of isolation and how sometimes the process of making something is more important than the end product.

In introduction, they wrote: "As visual arts teachers we have had to reconsider the priorities of art making and content in this time of crisis. It is our opinion that art is a vital and necessary tool for young people especially as they navigate this stressful time."

The visual arts team went on to explain their goals for delivering meaningful content and instruction to GDS students for as long as distance learning continues. They wrote, "In lieu of our normal curriculum, which is reliant on a multitude of arts materials that we do not expect families to have at their disposal, we have shifted our learning goals to that of making time and space for students to simply create and express themselves. Although we will continue to build skills through our lessons, we hope they will primarily function as a jumping off point and inspiration to overall creativity and escape."

In the video, narrator Jenn Heffernan (LMS visual arts teacher) quotes singer and activist Nina Simone who said, “It’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live”. Jenn explains, "We are ALL in a unique moment in history in right now, but it is far from the first time artists have responded to difficult times. Right now artists around the world are turning to music, writing, and all kinds of art to express the turmoil they see around them."

The visual arts team lifts up the stories of artists Frida Kahlo, Alberto Blanco, Ruth Asawa, and Barbara Ess. The video closes with a gentle push to students to begin creating. Jenn narrates, "We hope that some of these artists will inspire you to get creative while you are limited in where you can go. Making any kind of art is worthwhile—sometimes it is just a way to escape reality and dive into a fantasy world of your own creation. So whatever the subject is of your artwork, we just want to remind you that creating anything at all is meaningful, whether it’s a doodle, a painting, a beautiful oops or a beautiful big old mess. Just make something."

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