An MCLA Class Partnership with Norman Rockwell Museum Goes Virtual

April 16, 2020

From Concept to Print class

Students in Melanie Mowinski's From Concept to Print class. The class was set to partner with Norman Rockwell Museum on a series of free linoleum carving workshops before COVID-19 changed everything. Now, the whole world is getting a free linoleum carving workshop via virtual instruction developed by the students. 

Students in Associate Professor of Visual Art Melanie Mowinski’s From Concept to Print class are creating a global call for art about the meaning of home—in partnership with Norman Rockwell Museum (NRM), and in response to the NRM exhibition “Finding Home: Four Artists’ Journeys,” which chronicles artists’ interpretations of their family immigration stories.

When the Spring 2020 semester began, the six students involved with the project were reaching out to community organizations to coordinate free linoleum carving workshops for organizations like the ROOTS Teen Center and the Berkshire Center for Recovery. The linoleum prints from those workshops then would have become part of a steamroller printing festival at the Norman Rockwell Museum in May. The idea was to print a huge mural showing many interpretations of what home means.

COVID-19 changed everything—and Mowinski, her students, and the Museum reimagined the possibilities for their partnership.

Now, the whole world is getting a linoleum carving workshop, for free, via virtual instruction developed by these students. Each student took a section of the workshop activity and created it as a virtual component

“They’re so awesome,” Mowinski said. “We talked about it on a Tuesday; by Thursday, they all had videos or PowerPoints done.”

The Museum will own and present the content, and the students will share it via MCLA Art’s Facebook account. “It’s not going to be the same thing as it was going to be in person,” Mowinski said. “But this is part of their course work and this is the solution for them.”

This project was made possible by a Mellon grant through MCLA’s Institute for Arts and Humanities and the Elephant Rock Foundation. Before the College moved to remote instruction, Mowinski gave one workshop of her own, with three students working as assistants. And one in-person workshop was delivered by students on campus via the campus group Art for All. Rich Bradway, the Museum’s director of digital learning and engagement, edited the content into a video course.

Mowinski is grateful to Mary Berle, the museum’s chief educator, for her partnership. (Berle has also developed other partnerships with MCLA classes that have occurred during this academic year). “She is very much about ‘that’s a great idea, let’s figure it out as we go along, we’ll make it happen,” Mowinski said. “It’s always nice to have somebody who believes in the universe, in herself, and her collaborators.”

With so much unknown in the world right now, Mowinski is also proud of her students for rising to the challenge. “I had 100 percent attendance in my Zoom meeting classes this week,” she said. “When they said yes, they could do it, and they could have it by Thursday, I was floored. I didn’t expect it. They’re doing great.”


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