The Dayton Art Institute threw down a challenge and the creative response has been ingenious

A combination of ingenuity and resourcefulness is driving folks to rummage through  their wardrobes and collect objects around the house for props — including dogs — to re-create artwork from the Dayton Art Institute collection.

Early on in the pandemic, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam started an Instagram account called Between Art and Quarantine and soon after the J. Paul Getty Museum followed with the “Getty Challenge”.

The social media accounts, filled with photos of people recreating masterworks at home, has kicked off creativity around the world.

The DAI began their version of the challenge May 12 during Museum Week, and the Dayton community took up the cause.

>> Portraits during a pandemic: Art teacher re-creates masterpieces to delight her students

“Museum Week was a great opportunity to tap into the popularity of the ‘Getty Challenge’ and other similar art re-creation challenges and ask our staff and the community to re-create works from the DAI collection,” said Michael R. Roediger, DAI director and CEO. “The creativity has been amazing, and we would love to see more of these!”

Mia and Scarlett O’Keefe of Sidney recreated “Lost and Found,” a sculpture by Allison Saar found in the museums’ Dicke Wing of American Art.

The artwork – and the 10 and 13-year-old sisters - depict two figures seated in red chairs bending toward each other and connected by a tangle of hair.


Casey Goldman, lead museum educator, said she found fun and creativity with the challenge and recreated three artworks at home.

“I liked the idea of trying to find artworks in our collection that seemed to fit my personality or what I like about art,” Goldman said. “I was looking for artworks that I was drawn to.”

Goldman scrounged through her home and wardrobe to recreate “Head of a Moroccan Girl” by Laura C. Birge.

She cut a hole in a fitted sheet to create a poofy sleeved white shirt and topped it with a tank top she wears to outdoor concerts. She fitted a dowel removed from a paper towel holder inside a pillow case and created a hat for a perfect likeness of the original painting.

Goldman pulled out all the stops for Portrait of a Widow by Ludovico Carracii who painted a woman dressed in black, right hand raised toward a figure on a crucifix.

She piled on five layers of black clothing and wrapped a black skirt around her elbows to create the flowing sleeves in the painting.

A stuffed sloth clipped to a tripod stood in for the crucifix and a notepad and beaded necklaces from India took the place of objects on a table in the painting.

“It was a lot of fun because I had to think creatively about normal things around the house, Goldman said. “It also required that I look carefully at the artworks. There were a lot of things that I hadn’t really seen before or hadn’t thought about.”

Looking for ideas to create your own masterpiece from the DAI collection? Browse the collection highlights site or the "What is a Masterpiece?" microsite.

The DAI would like to see your recreations. Tag the museum’s social media accounts using the hashtag #DaytonArtAtHome.

The DAI's social media accounts are @DaytonArt on Twitter, @daytonartinstitute on Instagram, and on Facebook.

About the Author