In March, Columbia businesses began to close and children started to stay home from school, commencing in earnest our time of blending days and lost routines.
It meant, to stay entertained, people needed to be creative with what they had in their homes — something the "Tussen Kunst & Quarantaine" Instagram page encourages.
The username, translated from Dutch, means "Between Art and Quarantine." On that page, hundreds of pictures show people recreating famous artwork from all eras and using things they had on hand, like towels, fruit, musical instruments and, yes, even prized toilet paper.
Inspired, The Getty in Los Angeles put the challenge out to its nearly a half-milion Instagram followers. Other museums did the same.
Thus "the stay-at-home art challenge" took flight, and an art teacher at Battle High School wanted to be a part of it.
The @cpsfinearts Instagram page came to life April 13 after teacher Sheri Parker asked James Melton, the fine arts director for Columbia Public Schools, who created the Instagram page, if she could take it over after the switch to remote learning.
"It is just like entering a new realm, clearing your mind, having self expression, which is just really peaceful and calming or fun or relaxing," Parker said. "I feel like now people need the arts ... more than ever."
Parker and her husband, Hickman High School art teacher Thomas Parker, along with Hickman art teacher Julia Dunn and Oakland Middle School art teacher Melissa McConnell, decided to include the art challenge in enrichment lessons for district secondary teachers.
"My husband and I just kind of bounced ideas back and forth," Sheri Parker said. "He was like, 'I think it'd be cool if kids used food and made a sculpture out of food.' And then I was like, 'Well, it might be cool to make an art historical theme.'"
Eventually, their ideas become concrete. They left it open to the students about how to participate.
"We sent them the Getty Museum website, the Metropolitan Museum in New York website, and we mentioned the Kansas City Art Museum in the email we sent," Sheri Parker said. "So they could go through the galleries that they had online and pick an image, or they could find one that they knew or liked and recreate that."
It was something fun for students and their families. The Parkers and their two children also recreated artwork, including "Madonna and Child with Musical Angels" by Gherardo Starnina and "Diego on My Mind" by Frida Kahlo.
So did other teachers. Battle High School guidance counselor Anna McMillen recreated Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring." Hickman art teacher Traci Bolda and her husband, Rock Bridge art teacher Shannon Blakey, recreated "In the Car" by Roy Lichtenstein.
"I'm a huge fan of Frida Kahlo's art, so channeling her spirit was one of my first thoughts," Battle art teacher Jody Spriggs said. "She was powerful and overcame challenges, emotionally, physically and socially, with grace and dignity. She is a perfect role model for how we can get through this challenging experience."
Creatively recreating artwork was not the only thing posted on @cpsfinearts. There are drawings, origami art and other stay-at-home challenges. Sheri Parker wanted all students and others who see the Instagram page, not only the students taking art classes, to engage with the art and challenges.
"At a time when there is so much trauma and uncertainty, art allows us to express and connect," Spriggs said. "We are not alone if we participate in this shared experience."