WINSTED — The American Mural Project is offering children some ways to learn virtually this year.
The organization is offering two online art classes for young children, the first of which is a course in stop motion animation.
Michelle Begley, the education programs director at the American Mural Project, said these virtual sessions were first born out of necessity during the pandemic.
“We, like everyone, pivoted to virtual programming during COVID,” Begley said. “As we looked...we decided to keep virtual programming on our list of options. It creates access for kids who might have difficulty getting to a brick and mortar space like ours. It’s an access point we’d like to continue.”
Begley said something worked especially well within their model when it came to delivering programming straight into a child’s home.
“It allowed them to use the lens of an artist to look around their home spaces and engage with it in a way that they might not normally,” Begley said. “We are helping them to see things and make art with the things around them. Stop motion is a perfect example of that. There’s so many opportunities to create in your home and so many options that you can choose. At home the sky’s the limit.”
The stop motion course, which will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays in November, is being offered to children between the ages of 7 and 10. The course will be taught by Lindsay Skedgell, one of the American Mural Project’s professional teaching artists. Skedgell is a photographer and documentary filmmaker with a background in anthropology.
“Everyone is a little bit different and that’s the beauty of a teaching artist, that they bring their own craft into the room as well,” Begley said. “Most teaching artists are active artists themselves. They bring a devotion to their craft. Our teaching artists are really skilled at meeting the kids where they are and guiding them into creativity in a really wholehearted way.”
The second course the organization is offering will allow children to handcraft several giftable crafts. That course is open for children between the ages of 6 and 10 and will be taught by Jessica Russell, who previously taught at the New Orleans Children’s Museum. The course will be held on Wednesdays from 5 to 5:45 p.m.
“We did it last year and it was really well received,” Begley said. “The focus there is on the handy crafts that you can do around the home that used to be really popular, like candle rolling and ornament making. They’re guided to do that in their own homes. All they have to do is turn on the computer and it’s right there for them. It’s really easy accessibly for the most part.”
Begley said both of these programs are designed to show young children that art can be right in their own space, and doesn’t always require a trip to their building or elsewhere.
“It’s one thing to come and work with the teacher and make art alongside them but you know that learning is really solidified when someone is interested enough to bring it home,” Begley said. “This bridges that gap beautifully. You are already in your home. That’s absolutely encouraged in our programming. We might spend 45 minutes together, but keep working. When you turn your screen off, keep going.”
Begley said this aligns perfectly with their overall goals as an organization.
“Our goal is that we use art as a tool for communication and collaboration,” Begley said. “We embed that in all of our programming to the greatest extent that we can. We are really committed to helping kids see the world around them and the stewardship that’s necessary in that and commit themselves to it by working together.”
The fee for each program is $50 each. Required kits can either be shipped or picked up. For more information or to register, visit americanmuralproject.org/virtual-programs.