29 Apr, 2020
10 : 00
Since the beginning, the COVID-19 outbreak has reinforced the need for truly living up to the concept of global citizenship and leverage the opportunities internet connectivity can offer us. With people spread around the globe, many have found new ways to maintain connections and an active lifestyle; from live streaming, to online workouts and jam sessions, language classes, and for others, like Allison Cusato, YCIS Beijing Secondary Art teacher, her online adventures evolved and have involved an artistic social media challenge, initiated by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and quickly adapted by many of her fellow art teachers through the @Artedportraits account on Instagram.
This challenge, which is widely showcased on social mediums, including Twitter, is a fun and creative exercise where participants recreate famous artworks by established visual artists like Joseph Ducreux, Vincent van Gogh, and Georgette Magritte, amongst others, using three items around their house. However, for Miss Cusato’s friends who run the @Artedportraits account, their remakes “always include placing a COVID-19 related structure somewhere in the work of art and they usually have more than one teacher in their recreations.” she said
When she first started recreating works by artists including Banksy, Mondrian, Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman, and wear her creation while teaching, she received various reactions from her students. Some even “assumed this is how I’ve chosen to fill my spare time!” she said. But as the weeks of online learning progressed students got used to seeing their teacher in costume and were surprised when she was not dressed up in a character. Miss Cusato explains that “the more the costume resonates with them the better the reaction. As Wonder Woman this week I even had some gasps of awe.”
By the above reactions, she achieved what she had set out to do in the beginning with this challenge.“This began as a task I set out to do in order to maintain my students’ engagement during eLearning. I often dress as a work of art or artist for Halloween, so the idea came naturally when brainstorming ways to make online learning more fun.” said the US native.
Through this challenge, her students expanded their knowledge of art history by researching various paintings she recreated and also granted them an opportunity to widen their familiarity with new artists they had not known before.
Some of her recreations, which involved extensive staging were solo and others were collaborative efforts. She collaborated on the remake of See No Evil, Hear No Evil by Keith Haring and worked solo on Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear by Van Gogh.
Speaking to why she chose these artists, she said “The factors influencing my choices have been supplies available, the timeline of our return to school, crossing into other cultures and genders, increasing student awareness of postmodern artists, and touching on works that excite the students.”
For parents and students who would like to give an attempt at recreating a work of art Miss Cusato shares the following tips.
Another painting students could choose to recreate is Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper:
To have a look at some of Miss Cusato’s work, visit her blog here.