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In this quarantine art challenge, creativity begins at home

During a period when art lovers can't simply visit a museum or gallery, a new social media phenomenon has arisen as a creative outlet. Participants isolating at home amid the pandemic are encouraged to recreate a prominent work of art using everyday objects. Jeffrey Brown has the story as part of our ongoing arts and culture series, Canvas.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now some homegrown creativity.

    Jeffrey Brown looks at a social media challenge that is drawing responses from around the world, with everyday shelter-in-place life imitating art.

    It's part of our ongoing arts and culture series, Canvas.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    There are no selfies being taken with the Mona Lisa right now. We captured this scene at the Louvre last year during the blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci exhibition.

    Instead, a new kind of selfie with art is making its way through social media, an updated version of Grant Wood's American Gothic.

    A dad and his home-from-school children in a loose version of a 17th century Italian painting titled Lot and His Daughters. Appropriate to the-moment screams.

    The current call for recreating a work of art at home seems to have begun with a Dutch Instagram account called, in translation, Between Art and Quarantine. It was picked up by others, including the world-renowned Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, celebrated for its Rembrandt collection.

    The result, playful recreations of old masters' paintings. In Los Angeles, The Getty started #GettyMuseumchallenge, inviting people to use digitized and downloadable artworks.

    Annelisa Stephan is The Getty's assistant director of digital content:

  • Annelisa Stephan:

    I have seen people connecting, total strangers connecting through this experience, cheering each other and liking and commenting and favoriting their favorite creations.

    I also think art has a role to play in helping us make sense of this strange time. I thought maybe we'd be lucky if we got 30. That would sort of — that would have been a big success. And I feel like we got probably closer to 30,000, maybe more. So, totally surprised.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Andy Warhol's soup cans get an update to toilet paper. A man stuck at home dreams of Napoleonic conquest.

  • Annelisa Stephan:

    A favorite is a Renaissance manuscript page, and the artist added a thermometer into the composition. And she had been recovering from pneumonia at the time.

    So this kind of sadness of where we are today can coexist with the joy of being creative and seeing other people be creative in a really lovely way.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Among the clear favorites for social distancing art lovers, pets in all kinds of poses and costumes, and the work of 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

    Sometimes, as in pug with a pearl earring, pet and painter come together. Another favorite, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. One mother made her own version of Kahlo's self-portrait with monkeys.

    Alana Archer turned to household cleaning products.

  • Alana Archer:

    I think everyone's been I was looking specifically for just kind of a strong portrait of a woman, and her painting was just striking to me. And it just — there was a sense of empowerment in it that I really enjoyed.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    The challenge is just one among numerous efforts museums everywhere are making to connect with absent visitors.

    Many are offering virtual tours of their collections. And while it's not the same as being in the museum and standing in front of a great work of art, this challenge is clearly connecting people to art in new and creative ways, and offering the rest of us a smile in the process.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown.

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