An artistic hummingbird, Brown has generally been concerned in various innovative pursuits. She has a degree in English with an emphasis on resourceful writing, writes poetry, owns a plush toy firm, and is a crafts instructor for kids and grown ups. Right before Covid-19 hit, she managed exhibits at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. When the museum shut down, she, like a lot of folks around the planet, was still left dealing with the terrifying prospect of an unsure foreseeable future.

“Everything bought sliced aside,” Brown recollects. “Nothing like this had at any time transpired to me. It felt awful from the start out,” she suggests.

Stuck at residence, she recognized Erik — and the other young children in her constructing — ended up probably also dealing with this uncertainty. As faculties closed and California issued a shelter-in-location mandate, their every day life remodeled into anything unrecognizable.

A few of days just after seeing Erik up in the tree, Brown left him a notice with a straightforward dilemma: “Do you want to be my science partner in an experiment?”

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She obtained a response from an thrilled Erik nearly promptly. They begun preparing a “taxonomy” job encouraged by Brian D. Collier’s Incredibly Little Objects. The strategy was to accumulate very small objects, less than a single inch, and use information and facts like where by they experienced been discovered, no matter if they experienced been alive, and their evident function to give them pseudoscientific names.

Erik got to operate straight away. “I just begun acquiring all of these notes beneath my door and minimal very small, very small items of stuff in miniature plastic bags,” Brown claims. Looking at his enthusiasm motivated her to open the project to the community.

Amy Brown. Photograph: Amy Brown

Whilst remaining socially distant, she and Erik prepared a mini-exhibition to be displayed in the hallway future to her apartment. They hung some of the objects they experienced discovered, leaving out printed naming guides for visitors intrigued in obtaining and naming their possess modest, daily objects. They also created a now-defunct Fb website page and, sooner or later, an Instagram page so that they could get the term out.

The Ryland Museum was born. Outfitted with a internet site and social presence, it was no longer just a undertaking for Brown and Erik, but for everybody who was component of their community.

“Our children’s lives experienced modified substantially — all the entertaining activities of childhood ended up canceled right away,” recalls Nicole Leko, a person of Brown’s neighbors. “We ended up all so enthusiastic when we located out that Amy had produced a minimal group museum in our constructing.”

Her 11-year-old son, Julian, agreed: “The museum has been so a lot enjoyable,” he suggests. “I loved managing down the hall with my sister and my good friend to stop by it.”

Even with the optimistic community reaction, Brown hadn’t automatically believed of extending the task past the very first show. But by then, Julian had develop into fascinated with the plan of an RV highway trip, and because his dad and mom didn’t concede to his wishes, he resolved to compose a take note to Brown and her spouse inquiring them to acquire an RV that he could borrow.

With summertime approaching and the pandemic extending, Brown determined that she would consider Julian on an RV experience, not on authentic wheels, but by way of a 2nd Ryland Museum exhibit.

Brown promoted the Occur On! Occur On! Travel Right after Corona exhibit on her building’s community publication and on Facebook. Put together a winding cardboard paper road had been about a dozen drawings of seashores, cabins in the woods, and cities full of skyscrapers, submitted by kids (and older people), typically from her constructing. The young children got to “travel” and desire of lifestyle just after the pandemic, but they also acquired to truly feel the delight of getting their perform shown.

“It felt definitely superior to see my art in the exhibits,” suggests Julian.

Erik’s mother, Karin Ikavalko, has noticed the same feeling of delight in the other taking part kids, conveying that “it would make them feel aspect of one thing unique.”

With this goal, Brown based mostly the themes for her next exhibitions, Portraits and Animals, on the ideas and passions of other little ones she knew in her setting up. For small, improvised artwork exhibitions, their results was outstanding: equally acquired about 30 submissions, about 50 % from the developing, and 50 percent from all around the place.

As the museum grew, so did the feeling of community.

“It has been a fantastic way of being related and trying to keep our spirits up, specifically for the kids, who feel so joyful to be part of a neighborhood job and to still be connected with each and every other,” Leko suggests.

Ikavalko agrees, indicating the museum “brightens the hallway in our creating.”

“Seeing the collection of art from kids and developed-ups, submitted from men and women not just from our making but from quite a few different communities, fosters a sense of connection,” she provides.

For Portraits, Brown took points to the future degree by generating a printable e book of all the parts that had been shown in the exhibition.

“I wished the young children not only to have the recognition of having their do the job in this gallery but then to also be equipped to keep a reserve [with] their artwork in it,” she points out. Brown also designed two e book variations for Animals, and, at Julian’s insistence, is now retroactively working on 1 for the Journey show. Ikavalko purchased the publications as a birthday gift for her older son, Kai, stating that “this will be a time that we all don’t forget in the potential, and the publications will be one thing optimistic to keep on to.”

A portrait. Photo: Amy Brown

The recent Ryland Museum exhibition will be on exhibit until finally mid-November and follows a topic that feels significantly appropriate: Household. Persons all in excess of the earth have been and carry on to be confined to their households, other individuals have shed their houses to wildfires whose starvation is created a lot more voracious by the modifying weather, and homeless people today across the West Coast have been compelled to facial area both tragedies without having shelter or defense. As a country, we’re grappling with the risk of violence faced by Black people each in just and exterior their properties.

For the artists, it was also a opportunity to examine what “home” means. Hana Rusi, a 17-year-aged artist from Pennsylvania, submitted a photo of an oil portray of her good-uncle and his goat, which reminded her of her parent’s homeland, Albania. “I am pleased that my artwork was bundled in the selection,” she claims, and hopes to take part in identical initiatives in the foreseeable future.

Rusi’s sentiments discuss to Brown’s best intention: to make art additional obtainable to youngsters and inspire them to choose on creative pursuits, a aim that extends outside of 2020 and the pandemic. She’s applied for a grant to give totally free copies of exhibition books to each individual collaborating artist below 18, and she’s also looking to get the museum outside the house of her constructing: “I would like to get in touch with [the] San Jose Parks and Recreation Division and see if there is a way to use a wall in a park and have an out of doors exhibition.”

If the venture proceeds to improve, she hopes it will inspire “kids from everywhere, from all varieties of backgrounds, to know that their art is crucial and that what they accumulate is critical.” So considerably, she seems to be succeeding.