A gray slay sculpture of an abstract human bust
Photo: Max Cohen

Creating and Connecting in an Online Art Class

Over four weeks this spring, a small group logged on to a Saturday morning art workshop — organized by Donato Mallano and hosted by Trinity’s Congregational Arts committee — to learn the basics of clay sculpture, deepen their understanding of creativity, and enjoy time together.

For teaching artist Max Cohen, who led the workshop accompanied by cellist Jacob Cohen, it was a time to “free each person to explore the ebb and flow of their inner lives” while being supported by one another in a group environment.

Trinity parishioner David Elliott, who joined with his family — Megan, Taylor, and Jack — saw the workshop as a chance to do something engaging together.

A set of four sculpture heads — two blue, one green, and one brown — by the Elliot family
Sculptures: The Elliott Family

“There were no to-dos. There were no rules. There was no right or wrong answer. We just laughed at our work and fumbling, encouraged each other on, and celebrated the outcome, whatever it turned out to be."

“We really got to be present and authentic with each other,” said David, “which is sometimes difficult to do with a busy New York City family.”

Live music improvised by Jacob Cohen was integral to the group creative process and helped set an encouraging, judgement-free tone.

“Music allows us to demonstrate our philosophy of embracing intuitive creation while still leaving the creative decisions open-ended for the participants,” said Max.

According to David, it worked.

“I was amazed at how this workshop brought me to explore, face, question, and eventually express my own creativity,” said David. “The instruction, pace, and musical accompaniment allowed me to simply be with my creating.”

With many of us processing individual and collective grief, feeling anxious about a new normal, or languishing, practicing creativity allows us to reflect on what we’ve been through, express what we’re feeling, and even imagine new possibilities.

“Creativity is when we allow ourselves the freedom to find a new path toward reflecting our feelings in the world around us,” said Max. “Creativity is growth.”