The doors of the Franklin G. Burroughs - Simeon B. Chapin Myrtle Beach Art Museum are currently closed to the public in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 , but that hasn’t stopped the staff from bringing art education to the people of Horry County and beyond.
The museum offers a variety of youth art classes for children ages 3 to 18, and children’s art educator Devann Gardner wanted to continue offering these programs amid school and venue closures. So she turned to the internet.
“With the museum currently closed, I don’t get to see my students or talk with them. They’re so funny and put me in such a good mood,” Gardner said. “I wanted to create positive energy through this somewhat scary time. I didn’t want to take this opportunity away from them.”
KidsArt Online launched on the Myrtle Beach Art Museum’s website on March 20 with a “Mommy & Me” class centered around paper marbling.
Gardner started the lesson with a literary tie-in, reading a book from the Chapin Memorial Library. She then led children and their parents in a hands-on project using common household items, including shaving cream and a baking pan, as well as paint in primary colors. The teacher listed materials needed in the video description and also offered easy substitutes if those items weren’t readily available to students. Gardner also offers up do-it-yourself paint and glue recipes for students who don’t have those materials.
“Get creative with your materials,” she said. “Think outside the box.”
In addition to literary tie-ins, there are also science and math crossovers in Gardner’s lessons.
The first video is available for viewing on myrtlebeachartmuseum.org under “Programs for Youth” in the “Learn” tab.
Gardner is a recent graduate of Coastal Carolina University. She received a bachelor of arts in studio art painting with a minor in art history.
Gardner served as a tutor during her senior year of college and post-grad, working with students of differing ages, and interned with the Myrtle Beach Art Museum for eight months. She officially became the museum’s children’s art educator in May 2019.
On-site programming at the museum regularly includes a Mommy & Me class for children ages 3-4 and their parents. These classes always feature partnership with Chapin Memorial Library.
Other offerings are Saturday Adventures for ages 5-7 and ages 8-12, which begin with a tour of the museum’s galleries and center around projects inspired by the art on display. Gardner’s TeenArt class is for ages 13-18 and also includes museum-inspired projects, lessons in sculpture and painting. TeenArt is a longer class, as works created are more involved. Since Gardner majored in studio painting, she also teaches a course called Painter’s Palette, which is strictly a painting class, for ages 12-18. Gardner plans to create videos for all of the above age groups.
The museum has produced more KidsArt and TeenArt videos in the past few days and will release them online in the weeks ahead.
Future lessons include a paper weaving project for younger students, incorporating the concepts of complimentary and analogous colors, and a TeenArt lesson about kitsch art and Jeff Koons.
The museum’s outreach coordinator, Tracy Roode, will also be producing video content. Her videos will come out every Wednesday and will be geared toward students ages 2-5, exploring basic elements of arts and working with materials commonly found in the home. Pottery studio manager Natalie von Loewenfeldt will be recording some of her classes and exploring a variety of hand-making techniques.
Gardner has been encouraged by the creativity and positivity coming out during this period of social distancing as well as the opportunity to reach artists beyond Horry County.
“So many amazing things are coming out of it,” she said. “Now I have the opportunity to reach out so much further, but I do miss seeing and talking to my students.”
Gardner said the video series may continue even after the museum re-opens.
For more information and to access videos, visit myrtlebeachartmuseum.org.