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Valley Parents: Art centers get creative about offering creative opportunities

  • Cassie Merwin, of Hartland, stitches a pillow decorated with permanent markers and rubbing alcohol to make a tie dye effect during a fiber arts class at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret, Vt., Thursday, Jan. 2, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lisa Kaija, middle, reads from Knuffle Bunny, a book by author and illustrator Mo Willems to introduce a project during her “Illustrate Your Story" class at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret, Vt., to students Penny Isgrig, 5, of Woodstock, left, and Lily Merwin, 7, of Hartland, right, on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Kaija plans to teach her class of four to create their own story books. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lisa Kaija, second from left, teaches Penny Isgrig, 5, of Woodstock, left, to operate her camera as Flynn Baggish, 6, of Cambridge, Mass., right, and Violettte Goff, 6, of Cambridge, Mass., photograph each other at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret, Vt., Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. The class was preparing to make story books using photographs as backgrounds for illustrated characters in the method used by Mo Willems in his Knuffle Bunny series. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Violette Goff, 6, of Cambridge, Mass., looks for a different perspective while taking photographs for a project in the "Illustrate Your Story" class at ArtisTree in South Pomfret, Vt., Thursday, Jan., 28, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley Parents Correspondent
Published: 2/12/2021 11:01:24 AM
Modified: 2/12/2021 11:01:22 AM

SOUTH POMFRET — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, adults and children alike have been looking to creative endeavors to occupy their time and bring them joy.

ArtisTree Community Arts Center and AVA Gallery and Art Center are two of the organizations people have turned to learn new skills or improve on existing ones. Along with teaching students how to throw a clay bowl or mug, the two nonprofit organizations have had to find ways to keep people safe while continuing to offer the hands-on, in-person experience of creating art in one of their many classes.

Traditionally, classes at both organizations have been taught in person, but in response to the pandemic, they’ve introduced virtual programs. There are also reduced-size, in-person classes. Marie Cross ArtisTree’s director of communications, said there has been an uptick in people seeking out their programming now that they have time to explore some new or neglected passions.

“Especially during the pandemic we have found that people seem to be turning toward expressing themselves in art forms more,” Cross said. “Art — in many forms — seems to be a popular extracurricular activity for children and adults.”

For children, ArtisTree offers classes ranging from acrobatics to guitar building, from drawing and painting to stuffed animal design and creation, to a class called “Band in a Box.”

Similarly, AVA has partnered with organizations like the Montshire Museum of Science to offer outdoor classes for youth this fall and hope to do so again in the spring. Kids can also take virtual classes in digital animation and Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator. For its online classes, AVA has teachers Zooming in from Florida and students tuning in from North Dakota, said Nick Gaffney, AVA’s education manager. He’s also been glad to see an increase in access to art and art instructors.

“Whether it’s digital animation on an app on an iPad, or it’s clay on the wheel, or it’s building something crazy using Popsicle sticks and other materials, or just paint and paper, we want to offer ways to exercise those creative muscles,” Gaffney said.




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