Yeshivat Frisch’s Visual Arts program collaborated with the chesed organization Areyvut last month, to facilitate a family paint night dedicated to thanking essential workers. Art materials were provided to families free of charge, with contactless pickup. The finished projects, bearing messages of gratitude or merely adorned with upbeat and colorful images, have been displayed in medical facilities or gifted directly to medical staff/volunteers.
The collaboration was just one of the impressive ways that the Frisch Visual Arts program has risen to the challenges faced by educational institutions over the past nearly three months. One of the biggest challenges from the get-go was getting needed art supplies to the students in Frisch’s four-year Visual Arts track and other art electives. “We learned to adapt quickly,” said Frisch Visual Arts Program Director Ahuva Winslow. She managed to retrieve the supplies from the school building and schedule porch pick up times for students as needed.
Winslow also changed or adapted many projects. For example, in her Biblical Portraits class, students usually spend part of the second semester on an art installation project examining the character of Rachav from the Book of Yehoshua. Obviously, the class could not do that project in school. However, Winslow turned the project into an upcycled art installation or 3D work of art project to be completed individually. “The students came up with so many fun and interesting ways to use household materials that reflected the evolution of Rachav’s character in the story,” said Winslow. “They also created art that engaged with their own personal environments.”
Students also had the opportunity to engage in religious themes that can help make sense of the current instability we are living in. For instance, students in the Artist Beit Midrash course created meaningful works of art after studying Yigdal, especially the theme of redemption and the coming of Mashiach. Winslow described the artwork produced by the class as “cathartic and inspiring.”
Overall, Winslow found Zoom classes to be highly successful. “I have found that the students put much more time into their work in this structure, as they don’t have the rush to set up and clean up with the bells ringing and [the schedule of] classes changing daily,” she explained.The quality of the students’ work has been tremendous.
Not only have art students been able to forget about the school bell, but the creative outlet has made a significant difference in the students lives. “During this pandemic, art has been so important to all my students, those in the art track and those that I teach outside the art track,” said Winslow. “It has been therapeutic, a way to relax, pass time, self reflect and even to learn new skills.” She brings this awareness to her advisory class as well, where students created mind maps the day after some of them heard that their camps were cancelled. “They used these mind maps to outline their own particular summer goals whether personal, spiritual, family related, learning goals and so on,” said Winslow, who also runs the school’s knitting club—another great skill that has been resurging. “We have had great speakers and are now trying to create a knitting circle with a senior center so we can bridge the gap between young and old.”
In addition to their art projects, the junior honors art classes have gotten to hear from Frisch alumni Josh Gold and Jamie Herenstein about their art careers, Gold as a user experience designer and Herenstein as an interior design student at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.