5 Weekend Art Activities to Bust Quarantine Fatigue

Lockdowns are easing in some areas of the world, but large public gatherings and trips to a museum, library or concert are mostly off-limits.  Still, you can get your daily dose of art and culture at home with these new offerings.  Give one a try—your brain will thank you for it!

1. Reading:  Enjoy these blockbuster bedtime stories

Research shows that reading and literature help children develop resilience and empathy. Here are some fresh ideas for storytime with the kids.

Read the Ickabog by J.K. Rowling online (and enter an illustration contest!)

There’s a new book out by J.K. Rowling (yes, that J.K. Rowling).  And it is available for free online with new chapters released over the next seven weeks.

Rowling said that she’s had the idea for this story, The Ickabog, for a long time and that she used to read it to her two younger children each night while she was writing it.  But then she decided to publish a different book for adults, “which is how The Ickabog ended up in the attic. I became busy with other things, and even though I loved the story, over the years I came to think of it as something that was just for my own children.”

But then the pandemic happened.

“It’s been very hard on children, in particular, so I brought The Ickabog down from the attic, read it for the first time in years, rewrote bits of it and then read it to my children again,” Rowling wrote on the website’s homepage. “They told me to put back in some bits they’d liked when they were little, and here we are!”

Rowling is also inviting children (aged 7-12) from around the world to help illustrate the book.  If your child enters the official Ickabog Illustration Competition, his or her hand-drawn or hand-painted artwork may end up in the printed version to be published later this year.  As an added bonus, Rowling said she will donate any royalties from the print sales to help people affected by the coronavirus.

Listen and watch celebrities reading “James and the Giant Peach”

There’s an all-star cast lined up to do a live reading of the Roald Dahl classic, “James and the Giant Peach,” to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Read by Oscar-winning filmmaker and actor, Taika Waititi, new episodes (10 in all) are released every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1pm EST.

The read-a-thon is part of a charitable campaign supporting Partners In Health with The Roald Dahl Story Company matching every donation.

“Being an adult child myself and having read James and the Giant Peach to my girls multiple times, I’m excited to be able to partner with my friends, the Dahl team and Partners In Health and re-tell this story to help those most in need right now,” Waititi said. “This wacky, wonderful tale is about resilience in children, triumph over adversity and dealing with a sense of isolation which couldn’t been more relevant today.”

A must-watch for every Dahl fan, big and small.  Check out the first episode, featuring Chris and Liam Hemsworth (portraying two aunts!) and Nick Kroll.


2. Writing:  Spread words of kindness through a heartwarming video game

If you think the world needs a little more kindness and you want to contribute, check out this video game Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to) (currently on sale for $3.99).

As the name implies, the game is about writing kind words (with the help of chill background music).  But the game is truly heartwarming because the nice letters you write and receive are to and from real people from around the world.

The game asks the player to “use your words to lift others and be lifted in return.”  Research shows that expressive writing can help people navigate their uncertainties.  Players can anonymously write out their concerns and sorrows and request to receive kind letters (delivered by a deer mail carrier named Ella).  They can also reply to the requests made by other players.

Since the game’s release in September 2019, players have written over 1 million letters to one another and the reviews of the game have been—what else?—overwhelmingly positive. One reviewer writes, “This game is not really a game, more like a virtual pen pal except your pen pal is completely anonymous… and with the entire world. Kind of like a worldwide therapy support group filled with positive people sharing advice and experiences.”

Another review simply states: “Faith in Humanity… Restored.”

And what better time than during this period of turmoil and uncertainty to give and receive kindness?

As the game description states: “We’re all in this together.  Sometimes all you need are a few kind words.”

3. Museums: Immerse yourself in Infinity—and beyond

Get a glimpse of eternity from your living room.  The Broad, a contemporary art museum in Los Angeles, has released a series of immersive videos capturing the spirit of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.

Paired with curated music and audio, including works by celebrated musicians and sound artists, “the Infinite Drone series presents a new, contemplative way of experiencing The Broad’s most popular artwork.”

Kusama’s installations routinely draw long lines and sold-out exhibitions so this is a unique opportunity to sample her awe-inspiring work for as long as you like from the comfort of home.

4. Dance: Watch iconic dance performances for free online

Miss watching performances in-person?  Tired of shaky cell phone recordings on YouTube?

You’re in luck: the Lincoln Center is releasing iconic recordings of performances for its new Dance Week (May 30 – June 4) in a celebration for dance lovers worldwide.  The retrospective features more than 40 years of iconic performances held at the Lincoln Center, some of which haven’t been seen in decades.

The line-up will feature performances from world-renowned dance companies like Ballet Hispánico, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The School of American Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

5. Theater:  Stream musical “Hairspray Live!”

This musical is set in our hometown of Baltimore, so we’ll be tuning in. Plus listening to music and singing along are the stress busters we need right now.

From the press release:

“Hairspray Live!” will be broadcast online as part of The Shows Must Go On! The show will launch this Friday at 2:00pm EST and be available for 48 hours. The stream will be available on The Shows Must Go On’s YouTube channel for viewers in the US, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa.

The all-star cast of “Hairspray Live!” features newcomer Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad, Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblad, Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle, Martin Short as Wilbur Turnblad, Derek Hough as Corny Collins, Ariana Grande as Penny Pingleton, Andrea Martin as Prudy Singleton and Kristin Chenoweth as Velma Von Tussle.

Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, “Hairspray Live!” takes place in 1962 Baltimore. Teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream is to dance on “The Corny Collins Show,” a local TV program. When, against all odds, Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight and meets a colorful array of characters.

Watch “Hairspray Live!” here.

And if none of these options suit your fancy, we recommend scheduling some downtime away from screens and in nature this weekend.  Learn why a dose of nature is essential to your mental health.

Want more ideas?  Check out our Global Call to Art archives, where we collect the latest, greatest art ideas from around the world on how to stay healthy and make the most of the arts for wellbeing.

Written and reported by IAM Lab Communications Specialist Richard Sima. Richard received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins and is a science writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. 

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