Arts around the world ... at home

Robert Wilson, 5, makes an acrylic pour painting at the Norwood Public Library in 2019 as part of Kristen Rozelle’s Arts Around the World community art program. A version of the program can now be completed remotely for students learning at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo contributed by Kristen Rozelle

NORWOOD — When schools and libraries closed earlier this month and students across the state were sent home to learn, Norwood artist Kristen L. Rozelle had an idea.

“We don’t know how long this is going to last,” she said of isolation due to the novel coronavirus, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11. “And we have the ability today, with technology, to reach people in a different way.”

A community art teacher for over 20 years with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and studio art from SUNY Potsdam, Ms. Rozelle has been teaching classes at Norwood Public Library, 1 Morton St., for the past few years.

In 2019, she taught Arts Around the World, a summer series of visual arts lessons rooted in history, music and culture.

Supported by the Decentralization Program, which is part of the New York State Council on the Arts and administered by the St. Lawrence County Arts Council, Ms. Rozelle’s on-site library programs are designed for kids to learn by doing, to get messy with a variety of art styles.

This summer’s series is based on Art Through Fairytales, and Ms. Rozelle said she is hopeful the program can still happen as the threat of the coronavirus decreases.

With closures announced and social distancing precautions in place, Ms. Rozelle has transformed the original Arts Around the World program into an at-home toolkit for families to use on their own with kids ages 3 and older.

“I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something for the parents who are going to be tasked with teaching their kids,’” she said.

The original Arts Around the World program featured project making, music and history lessons from several countries, including Chile, Australia and Spain.

The at-home program is comprised of four classes, each focusing on one of four art forms: French repousse metalworking, Chilean rain sticks, Japanese suminagashi mugs and American acrylic-poured canvases.

The total cost for the four classes, which Ms. Rozelle suggests be implemented over four weeks, is $20 per family, or a donation.

To participate in the program, families can contact Ms. Rozelle with their payment or donation, and she will email step-by-step instructions and materials lists.

All materials, she said, can either be found at a local grocery store or around the house.

Additional information about the Arts Around the World program can be found on Ms. Rozelle’s artist Facebook page, Kris A Lis Designs. She can be reached by email at krisausie@hotmail.com.

Ms. Rozelle has a master’s degree in teaching childhood education and has developed the program for kids of all ages and kids with special needs.

Her own art has evolved over the years, as she’s explored watercolor, chalk pastels, ceramics, printmaking and glass bead jewelry.

As a child, her preferred medium was painting, but following an accident several years ago, Ms. Rozelle underwent several shoulder and hand surgeries, making it difficult for her to paint in conventional ways.

“Out of not being able to paint, I’ve learned to pour acrylic paints, set them on fire and create beautiful pieces,” she said, adding that when she has experienced trauma, she has overcome.

And that message of overcoming, she said, is especially relevant now, as isolation can fuel trauma recall during an already traumatic pandemic for many.

What’s been most important for her, Ms. Rozelle said, is remembering life’s “art and soul.”

“In the midst of everything that’s going on,” she said, “we have to offer hope.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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