Art institutions across the city may be closed, but artists are getting creative in finding ways to continue arts programming from home.
Deborah Putnoi is an artist and educator taking to Facebook to offer live, virtual alternatives to in-person art classes. Putnoi is no stranger to virtual teaching — she founded The Drawing Lab, a virtual resource for teaching budding artists of all ages the basics of putting pencil to paper.
Starting this week, Putnoi is broadcasting live every Monday through Friday at 2 p.m. for free. In the live videos, Putnoi prompts audiences to follow along with her while she draws, offering advice to novices as she goes. For those who miss the livestreams, the videos will stay posted on The Drawing Lab’s profile.
“I decided to offer my services as a creative person to help kids and even adults to deal with the stress that’s going on right now and use drawing as a way to bring us together,” Putnoi said in a phone interview.
The Kennedy Center’s artist-in-residence, Mo Willems, has also moved to virtual programming. In his residency, Willems stresses interactivity and participation in art and doesn’t plan to stop now that the Center has closed to the public until further notice. Broadcasting from his home in Massachusetts, Willems creates videos under a series called Lunch Doodles, at 1 p.m. every weekday. Willems also invites viewers to doodle along with him, and the Kennedy Center provides free downloadable activity pages on its website. On Day 1, which was Monday, Willems talked kids through drawing his popular Pigeon character. On Day 3, they learned how to draw Piggie, one of the stars of his Elephant & Piggie book series.
Jarrett Krosoczka is an author and illustrator and posts videos of his illustration process on YouTube. A touring artist who visits schools to provide artistic programming, Krosoczka found himself suddenly at home amid school closures. He has started posting daily livestreams at 2 p.m. on his channel under the series titled “Draw Every Day With JJK,” teaching the basics of illustration.
Krosoczka has been producing live lessons from his website and other platforms since 2011, but recently turned to YouTube because of his own children’s use of the platform. He cited the need for routine and artistic education even when they cannot attend school in person as his motivation for creating daily content.
“This isn’t a snow day, this is a new reality for the moment in which we’re all going to be homeschooling our kids,” Krosoczka said in a phone interview. “Young people need rhythm and schedule, and they need to know what’s coming next. I thought ‘I’m going to be home, so I can do something.’ ”
Though the future of many arts-based programs remains uncertain, the virtual arts community thrives. “You might be isolated, but you’re not alone,” Willems wrote in a statement on the Kennedy Center’s website. “You are an art maker. Let’s make some together.”