Staying Creative Through COVID-19:
How Living Arts is 'Flipping the Gallery' and More!
If you are looking for creative ways to keep your kids occupied, Tulsa’s art museums and galleries are a fantastic place to start. I interviewed Sina McLin, the Arts & Communications Manager at Living Arts of Tulsa, to get her perspective on creativity and social distancing, and to provide some more information about what Living Arts is doing to keep connected during this time.
Following the interview, you will find links and information about what other Tulsa-area art museums and galleries are offering.
Q&A with Sina McLin
Q: Local museums and art galleries like Living Arts are doing a fantastic job of providing creative activities for families. Why do you think providing this kind of content is important right now? What is the value of creativity during a crisis?
SM: Being homebound for weeks at a time can be stressful since everyone is dealing with their schedules and routines being drastically changed. Some parents are now trying to balance a full workweek with their kids being at home full time. Providing families with art activities or educational videos can help facilitate structure in the chaos and uncertainty of these times. Being creative and finding happy moments during this crisis is crucial.
Also we want to stress the importance of engaging the artist community and our decision to make them a priority right now. “Flip the Gallery” is giving them a platform to share their gifts, talents, and creations, and hopefully helps them feel connected during this time at home.
Q: What value does creativity through arts/crafts have for kids in particular?
SM: Kids have so much energy and are used to attending school and participating in camps and sports throughout their week – now that we are all staying at home and social distancing, they don’t have those outlets for creativity and energy anymore. I think it is important to provide arts and crafts for kids to do at home to keep their minds stimulated. Being creative allows them to use their brain in an engaged way and view the world through a tangible approach, not just through a screen.
Joss and I enjoyed making blow paint monsters, courtesy of a Living Arts tutorial
Q: I’ve noticed some people enjoying an increase of creativity right now, while others feel like COVID-19 has negatively impacted their creativity for one reason or another. What would you say to someone who is feeling too stressed/worn out to create?
SM: I completely understand feeling too drained to create during this crisis. My advice would be to actively seek out situations that bring you peace. Leave your phone at home and go on a walk or sit in the sun and listen to birds chirp. I think people forget sometimes how important it is to let themselves have moments that aren’t influenced by media or work deadlines. And don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be extra creative right now. Everyone processes things differently, and it doesn’t help to make comparisons or have unrealistic expectations.
Q: Living Arts is “Flipping the Gallery,” with an impressive daily schedule of activities for kids through adults. What did the development of this program look like? How does it complement or differ from what Living Arts of Tulsa typically offers for families?
SM: When we realized the gallery would be closed for several weeks to several months, we started brainstorming how we could still engage with our community. I remembered back in high school one of my math teachers “flipped the classroom” by pre-recording her lectures for us to watch at home in order to allow us more time in class to work on problems and have her help us learn the material – that is where I drew inspiration for the name “Flip the Gallery.” I proposed the idea to our director, Heather Duncan, and she was completely onboard.
We had a stockpile of podcasts and archive videos that I knew we could start off with, so I built out a social media schedule to post Monday-Saturday. Then it grew into us reaching out to our member artists to facilitate Facebook Live art classes on the weekends and brainstorming art activities that people could do at home.
I honestly think “Flip the Gallery” has allowed us to connect with families more actively than we used to. Normally we have First Friday’s, artist talks, art focused workshops, and monthly committee events that families can participate in. As a staff, we have talked about continuing “Flip the Gallery” when we can reopen, since we have had such high engagement and interest.
Q: What are some of Living Arts’ usual family-oriented programs?
SM: Living Arts has strived to build up our educational programming and family friendly activities over the last year. The annual Dia de los Muertos Art Festival is one of our largest community events, and we reach thousands of families, but we do a lot more during the year!
We have several educational programs for middle school and high school students to grow their artistic practices. We have a summer camp – this year we are planning on having five different sessions to focus on a wide range of contemporary art practices. We have lots of monthly programming such as Gallery Yoga, Spoken Word Events, Artists Talks, Podcast recordings, and more. We have also done cookie decorating workshops, movie nights, and art workshops.
Q: Are there any upcoming Flipping the Gallery activities you are particularly excited about/would like to highlight?
SM: I absolutely love the yoga classes we have with Ayngel McNall over zoom. We had one over the weekend, and it was so wonderful to see everyone at home practicing together. Monthly gallery yoga has become one of my favorite things, so I am glad we can keep doing it!
I also think the Virtual Art Lessons every week on Saturdays are wonderful! They are at 2:00 p.m. on Facebook Live. This Saturday we have a class with Taylor Painter-Wolfe, and I can’t wait!
We are also working on organizing a virtual First Friday for May 1st since we all can’t go downtown. Right now we have Philbrook partnering with us to facilitate a Porch Parade with ArtCars from our community, 108 Contemporary has a virtual tour of an exhibition, Scott Taylor will be doing a live painting, and we will have our New Arts Youth Council students’ virtual exhibition. It should be a wonderful “art crawl” from the comfort of your home!
To learn more about how Living Arts of Tulsa is “Flipping the Gallery,” go to livingarts.org.
ahha will be the first to tell you that “Creativity Isn’t Cancelled.” A visit to ahha’s Social Distance STUDIO provides nearly twenty at-home activity options, with more being added every week. These include Creative Challenges that are posted on ahha’s social media channels each Friday as well as other fun ideas like making paper dolls and stained glass necklaces. They also provide an age rating so you’ll know which ages these activities are most appropriate for.
Gilcrease also has online video tutorials that perfectly reflect the museum’s collection. These include tutorials for making cornhusk dolls (Joss and I did this at one of their Funday Sunday events a few months ago!), Cherokee pucker toe moccasins, etc.
Plus, follow them on social media for soothing scenes from works in their collection and other updates. And don’t forget, although the museum itself is closed, you can tour the grounds for FREE daily from 6 a.m.-11 p.m. You can also find a couple of scavenger hunts available on their website if you do visit. Just remember: practice social distancing!
Living Arts of Tulsa is “Flipping the Gallery” through May 2020, sharing a new activity each day (Monday through Saturday) that kids and families can enjoy. Some activities, like Blow Paint Monsters, are more geared toward the younger set. Others, such as Happy Hour events, will be appreciated by adults. Find the schedule here, and follow @livingartsoftulsa on Facebook or @livingarts_tulsa on Instagram so you don’t miss anything!
Philbrook Museum may have been one of the first to come up with a comprehensive social distancing plan, including live stream concerts, Family Art Club, Instagram takeovers and more. Here is their full schedule, as found at philbrook.org:
- Sundays: Community Corner Instagram takeovers
- Mondays: Family Art Club with the Philbrook Education Department and Curator Conversations (10 am & 1 pm/Facebook)
- Tuesdays: Explore the Gardens (10 am/Facebook)
- Wednesdays: Curator Tour (1 pm/Facebook)
- Thursdays: Explore the Gardens (10 am/Facebook)
- Fridays: Curator Tour (1 pm/Facebook)
- Saturdays: Singalong with Hot Toast Music (10 am/Facebook)
Some of our watercolor art, based on a Philbrook tutorial
My son and I have particularly been enjoying the art tutorial videos uploaded by Jenny Fisher from Philbrook’s Education Department. We’ve learned how to make books, play with watercolor textures, etc.! Find all of Philbrook’s videos on their YouTube channel.
Plus, find a variety of free, downloadable coloring pages for kids here.
Finally, follow @tulsakids on Instagram or @tulsakidsmagazine on Facebook, where we are sharing one new creative activity that you can do with your kids every morning at 8 a.m. And feel free to email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have an activity you’d like us to share!