Barry Kornhauser understands people feeling gloomy during the COVID-19 pandemic and its ensuing restrictions. The lack of face-to-face interaction can be tough to deal with, especially for someone like Kornhauser, assistant director of campus and community engagement at Millersville University’s Office of Visual & Performing Arts, and someone who feeds off the energy of others.

But Kornhauser wasn’t about to give in, either. Understanding the economic challenges faced by so many, as well as the need for creative outlets, he helped launch Millersville’s Art to Heart program along with South Central PaARTners Program Coordinator Marci Nelligan and Lancaster City Council President Ismail Smith-Wade-El, and with assistance from the MU Foundation.  Art to Heart is a twofold operation which brings free artistic workshops to the homes of Lancaster County community members while supporting local artists at the same time.

The workshops offer arts experiences for people of all ages.

Art to Heart, which began in May 2020, accepts donations to pay local artists to continue their creative pursuits. In return, the artists create free instructional videos and online workshops available for families and individuals otherwise disengaged from the community’s artistic life due to the pandemic.

The workshops offer arts experiences for people of all ages. The videos can be found on the University’s YouTube channel.

Donations come in from all types of people, Kornhauser said, from the former mayor of Lancaster and his wife to community members concerned about the future of art programs.

“It’s wonderfully heartwarming and indicative of the fact that this is a community and campus that truly appreciates the value of arts,” he said. “The arts can be a powerful tool for social justice and emotional health. It gives us a chance to connect with one another.”

Jennifer Tarr, a 2016 graduate from Millersville, is one of the artists featured on the University’s YouTube channel and has been heavily involved with the workshops. Her videos, ranging anywhere from five to 15 minutes, are unique but easy enough to complete for people of all skill and experience levels.

The arts can be a powerful tool for social justice and emotional health.

In her videos, Tarr guides artists through creative projects such as painting with coffee and making art out of food.

“I’ve always been an artistic person,” Tarr said. “When I had the opportunity to participate in this program, I was all about it. It gave me something to work with and I hope it helped others, too.”

Workshops aren’t all about drawing or cooking.  Solise Kharisma posted a video featuring creative movement. In some ways similar to yoga, Kharisma contoured her body as a way to communicate an image or feeling. Sena Taskapılıoglu created a stop motion video tutorial using simple household items.

The power of having different artists from different backgrounds was intentional, Kornhauser said. While the funds raised reached Millersville alumni, they were also directed to artists from underrepresented populations.

“Our hope is the program can continue even after the pandemic is over,” Kornhauser said. “The long-term vision of the program is to sustain the arts in Lancaster, not as an act of charity, but as an act of solidarity.”

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