Selva Priya online

Selva Priya prepares to talk about her online painting activity via a Facebook video, joined by daughters Kavya and Oviya Yuvaraj.

Students of South Fayette Township artist Selva Priya spent quite a while preparing for their youth gallery show at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

The exhibit was supposed to run from March 10 through April 28, with the opening reception scheduled for March 14.

As it turned out, the museum that same day announced its temporary closure “as a precautionary step to slow the spread of COVID-19.” And that, of course, came on the heels of Gov. Tom Wolf’s ordering the shutdown of Pennsylvania schools through at least March 27.

To help keep the creativity flowing for her students and other aspiring artists, Priya is going the virtual route by planning to lead activities via live streaming through her Priya Arts Facebook page. For the time being, the sessions are scheduled for 4 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays.

“This is a small initiative to do a fun, relaxing paint event,” she said on a video announcing her intentions. “No experience is needed. You can paint with your kids.”

Just a few materials are necessary: pencil, eraser, ruler, oil pastels and multimedia paper, watercolor paper or any drawing paper.

“If you don’t have oil pastels, don’t worry. You can use crayons and color pencils, too,” Priya said.

She started teaching classes at her studio in the fall and since then also conducted programs at South Fayette Township Library. Her students have participated in community-oriented projects, including making a Valentine’s Day-themed “Sending Our Hearts” mural for UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

The students visited the center Feb. 13 to deliver the project personally.

“There was a patient who came and said she really had a bad day, and this really brightened her day,” Priya reported afterward. “She was in tears, and so were all of us. It was a very emotional and touching moment.”

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Priya Arts students

Priya Arts students present their project to the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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