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Tulane students team up with nonprofit to create virtual art projects for children

Updated: Nov. 27, 2020 at 3:14 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -We’re all learning to do things differently during the ongoing pandemic. And, that’s especially true for Dana Reed, the Executive Director of Upturn Arts, a nonprofit arts education program for children.

“Our slogan is, when school’s out, we’re in, so, any time a school is closed for any kind of break or parent teacher conference, we offer onsite art classes during those breaks,” said Reed.

But, on March 16th, they had to cancel those on site art classes and they haven’t been able to return to in person programs since then due to the Covid-19 crisis. That’s why Reed teamed up with Tulane Professor Ashley Nelson and her freshman class to come up with virtual art projects children can do at home over the holiday season.

“I think watching virtual schools, my daughter, you see that missing component of creativity and collaboration of working together and I really think that is what we wanted this project to focus on, was collaboration of the family, to work together, because children just aren’t getting that right now, they’re not able to be social in a social environment and really solve problems together,” Reed said.

Parents can go to Upturn Art’s website and find how to videos created by Tulane students.

“Families can go log on the computer, find recycled items, we really focused on recycled art projects, so that things were tangible and easy to find, so that, we wanted what we call table structure, so that in the holidays these art pieces can sit at the table and everyone could enjoy the art that was made by the family,” Reed said.

Nelson says while her classes have had a partnership with Upturn Arts over the years, this year provided her students with a unique opportunity.

“When could a student ever learn how to do origami if it wasn’t for a freshman Tides class? What I think was so much fun for my students is I took them out of their comfort zone because they had to make a video, they had to talk it through, they had to do everything you would on a professional level,” Nelson said.”I think what was really important is they enjoyed working together as a team, because right now they’re in class 6 feet apart and spread apart, they’re at home in their dorms and they’re not really with a lot of people but here they actually had a goal with two other classmates and I think that was a lot of fun for them.”

Reed says they’re not just giving students something to do over the holidays, instead it’s a way for families to safely come together while also being creative.

“We can feel good at the dinner table over the holidays while we look at this thing we created together as a group,” Reed said. “I think it’s a way we can build bonds within our family and carry those bonds over socially when we can get to that point to have more social interaction as these children get older.”

Upturn Arts says there’s also a fundraiser associated with those at home projects that will benefit their in person Summer camp that is scheduled to return in 2021. The nonprofit says an anonymous donor will give a $100 for each finished art project posted on Upturn Arts Facebook or Instagram pages by December 1, 2020.

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