As the school year’s fourth quarter approached its final weeks, St. Mary’s Dominican High School students in teacher Claudia Vallejo’s Spanish III Honors class were assigned a project that has been embraced globally. The creative ways people were recreating paintings during quarantine for the Coronavirus was the subject of an April 10, 2020 Time Magazine article, “How People Imitating Masterful Paintings Launched a Sweeping Trend from Italy to Iceland.” The article inspired Vallejo to give an assignment to her students where they could apply their knowledge of Spanish language and culture to art.
She shared the article with them, noting a modified approach with virtual visits to museums from a list Vallejo compiled of ten Hispano-American museums. The museums were in Spain, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Perú. For the assignment, the students answered in Spanish questions about the artist they selected, location of the museum, title of the painting, and its description. In addition, each student gave a title to her own recreation of a painting.
“I loved how the students involved their families in this project and the titles they gave to their recreated paintings,” said Vallejo. “I also loved their exchange of messages on our Teams page – For abstract art as your original, your picture is so incredible and so creative. You should be very proud; OMG I love this; For such a detailed painting, your picture is practically identical. It’s amazing.”
She pointed to the therapeutic element of art, whether the form is a painting, sculpture, drawing, or music. Artist Frida Kahlo considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists, contracted polio at age six which caused her to be bedridden for nine months. She recovered from the disease, but it damaged her right leg and foot, causing her to limp when she walked. She began painting mostly self-portraits after she was severely injured in a bus accident. Kahlo exhibited her paintings in Paris and Mexico before her death in 1954 at the age of 47.
“Frida Kahlo created the most amazing paintings when she found herself in physical and emotional pain,” said Vallejo. “Art helps people to heal and find spiritual peace. This is especially true during these difficult times. There are numerous exhibits, performances, concerts, books, and so much more –and they are free and available online.”