With the intentional three-week remote learning term underway, Millbrook’s student-artists find themselves distanced from the Holbrook Arts Center, their spiritual home on campus. Fortunately, the arts faculty curated a variety of take-home kits to enable students to make art wherever they are.
“We thought about and planned the kits for a long time,” said Arts Department Chair Sarah MacWright. Before school opened in September, the arts faculty assembled what Ms. MacWright called “go bags,” in case a student had to leave campus or on-campus learning was suspended. These care packages contain charcoal and sketchpads along with other versatile and universal items that can be used across classes, plus a few thoughtful and fun items to remind kids they were missed.
As the intentional remote learning period approached, the arts faculty assembled takeaway kits specific to their coursework. Vocal Music Instructor Joe Raciti concocted care packages with drumsticks and instructions to follow to create a music box with which to harmonize. Dance instructor Leighann Kowalsky provided juggling kits to keep dancers on their toes and circus artists nimble. Ms. MacWright’s honors photography students have the tools to create a portrait portfolio of those with whom they are sheltered.
Ceramics Instructor Shannon Harris tailored kits for three of her classes while honors ceramics and independent study potters gathered material needed for their individual projects. Artists enrolled in Studio Pottery participated in a project based on the Great British Baking Show that shows the strong connection between ceramics and baking. These kits included flour and sugar, measuring cups and spoons, and other baking necessities.
Ms. Harris says, “While we are at home and away from the studio, baking presents a wonderful opportunity to continue our creative practice! It also allows the development of skills similar to those learned in ceramics. Mixing the ingredients is a kindred process to mixing glazes, kneading dough is reminiscent of wedging clay, and piping designs with icing is just like slip-trailing. As clay needs to fire in the kiln to become vitrified, a cake needs to bake in the oven so that you can eat it. The scientific crossover is incredible.”
“The pandemic is necessitating novel creativity,” said Ms. MacWright. “My colleagues have always been impressive,” she continued, “now I know they have another gear!”
While Zoom meetings can’t replace in-person time between instructors and students, they allow students to stay connected with classes and for the individual instruction that is a hallmark of the arts department. With the hopeful return of student artists to campus in January, the halls and studios of Holbrook will once again thrum with activity. The time away will likely result in bolstered portfolios and other new work. Students will reunite with instructors and be reminded that though art is everywhere, there’s no place like Holbrook.