WATERTOWN — The coronavirus outbreak wasn’t going to stop Shannon L. Walter from teaching about art.
The coordinator of arts at the Watertown YMCA provides art lessons online to families who are trying to find activities to do while they’re stuck at home during the pandemic.
Starting after schools closed last week, she’s teaching children and families about art and artists in videos that are posted at 7 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Called the SWA Project, the first two 30-minute lessons remain on her website for families to enjoy.
Already the videos have become popular with families both locally and across the country, even reaching as far as Australia. She’s had 20,000 views online.
Families have enjoyed the lessons so much that some have worked on arts projects for as much as two hours while they view the lessons, she said.
“My hope is to help families to have something to do with so much going on,” she said from her Cape Vincent home.
Parents have been forced to homeschool their children but it might be difficult to find ideas to do to keep their children’s time occupied.
The art lessons are there to help, Ms. Walter said. It’s also keeping her busy, too. The Y is closed because of concerns about the coronavirus virus, or COVID-19.
She provides each lesson with a supply list using items that families already have in their homes.
The first two lessons were about Romare Bearden, an African-American artist who worked with cartoons, oils and collages during the Harlem renaissance, and Piet Mondrian, a post World War I abstract painter who was known for using bold colors.
She plans to discuss Chinese plum vases in the third installment on Tuesday. The lesson will include having the children to go outside to find branches that they can put inside the vases that they create.
The children have liked the videos so much that they’re sending her photos of their creations.
“I don’t know how it took off,” she said. “If I can get 30 minutes of smiles, it’s worth it. We need it right now.”
At the Y, she’s runs youth development, military outreach and arts education. Growing up in Maryland, Ms. Walter, 33, a former special education teacher, moved to the north country for the job at the Y. She’s worked mainly as a muralist.
The art lessons can be found at ShannonWalterArt and by clicking on the SWA Project.