Earlier this year, Alex Adamo sat at home in Watertown. She and her husband, newlyweds, had contracted the coronavirus shortly after canceling their already-small New York wedding. But, even while sick and unable to work, Adamo didn’t dwell on her own plight. Instead, she worried about how children were coping with this new reality.
“I thought, if I feel like this, the kids have got to be internalizing it tenfold,” Adamo said. “People need something to keep their hands busy, to keep their minds sharp, and to create color and routine because none of us know what to do right now.”
An after-school teacher in Cambridge prior to the pandemic, Adamo knew the children she worked with and others were likely struggling with newfound isolation and changes in routine. So, as soon as she felt better, in mid-April, she turned to Zoom with an idea to forge creative connections.
Adamo rebranded as AlexMakesArt [alexmakesart.com] and developed two ongoing virtual programs: Crafternoons and SAVI, or Social Art Virtual Immersion. Crafternoons occur every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. Each class features a different craft, led by Adamo, utilizing household items from tinfoil to toilet-paper tubes. The activities are modifiable for young creatives of any age.
Adamo’s friend and graphic artist Gerald Lane teaches SAVI alongside her. Each session’s fee includes a box of supplies for that day’s activities, delivered to participants ahead of the event. SAVI classes are hosted via Zoom weekly on Tuesdays or Thursdays and organized by month, so participants can register for four or six consecutive weeks at a time. January’s offerings will combine science and art — like optical illusions and comic-book illustration — and are geared toward children ages 6 to 12.
“Once kids are out of school and parents have to go back to work after lunchtime, what are the kids doing?” Adamo said. “More than anything else, crafting was a gateway to a larger conversation about having community and someone to talk to.”
What started as an online spot for some of her former students and neighborhood kids to congregate and make art together soon transformed through word of mouth into a full-time gig for Adamo, drawing participants from all over the world.
Though she has taken a few weeks off for the holiday season, Adamo’s offerings resume on Jan. 4. Registration for any classes can be completed on alexmakesart.com and prices are determined by a sliding scale. Adamo also offers scholarships for those who need them and plans to continue making her services more accessible for creatives without regular access to a computer in the new year.
“I didn’t have a lot of art education growing up, I just had a lot of passion for art,” Adamo said. “I want kids to realize that whether they’re using toilet tubes or high-grade art materials, they’re able to create something authentic because it’s coming from them.”
Grace Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GraceMGriffin.