Long Island City organization brings art and imagination to kids at home

Art Strong, a community-based art organization in Long Island City, is selling At-Home Art Kits to engage children ages 4 and up in fun activities this summer.
Photo courtesy of Art Strong

A Queens youth organization is offering ways for children to play, create and learn inside their homes this summer. 

Art Strong, a community-based art organization in Long Island City, is selling At Home Art Kits to engage children ages 4 and up in fun activities. 

After canceling their summer Art in the Park program due to COVID-19, Ashley Cavadas and Hannah Lokken, owners of Art Strong, decided to bring art and imagination into the homes of their students. 

“Some parents are not as comfortable with artmaking at home, so we wanted to create a kit that just kind of empowered families to have those experiences at home if they couldn’t have them anywhere else,” Lokken said. 

The art kits promote activities such as abstract paintings on canvas, 3-D dioramas with model magic characters, wacky cardboard self portraits, hanging fabric paintings, and plaster plant sculptures. They come with materials, an apron, a sketchbook, pre-recorded videos, step-by-step printed instructions and bonus prompts. 

The main kit (the At Home Art Kit) costs $99 and can be purchased on the Art Strong website. To avoid shipping costs, the kits can also be picked up on Saturday, June 13, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Plaxall Gallery, at 5-25 46th Ave. in Long Island City. 

The website is also peddling the following items for younger children: 

Embroidery Kit ($25), colored yarn and string, a needle, burlap, paint, brush and more; Rainbow Sensory Bin ($35), multi-colored rice, a plastic funnel, pompoms, paper cups, a scooper, plastic eggs, popsicle sticks, foam beads, cleaners and more; Rainbow Peg Dolls ($12), 2.5-inch figurines hand-painted in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple; and Rainbow Play Doh Set ($22), which contains four-ounce plastic jars with screw-top lids in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

According to Lokken, they are planning to release more art kits throughout the summer and will be launching free virtual online classes in July. 

ArtStrong is rebounding from its own COVID-related setback. Cavadas and Lokken were about to sign a lease for a community art center in Long Island City when the pandemic forced them to change their short-term plans.

“All of our plans are being pushed back for about a year and nothing is quite set in stone yet — in terms of when construction will finish and when we would be able to get settled and open up,” Lokken said. 

Lokken and Cavadas were looking forward to offering enrichment classes and camp options, while also organizing parties and special events. However, those plans are currently on hold. 

As of now, Lokken said, they’re just “rolling with the punches.” 

“We’re just continuously revising our plans for late summer and fall based on restrictions and guidelines. We hope to have in-person classes again as soon as we can do that safely,” Lokken said. 

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