This upcoming winter, the Dairy Barn Arts Center, 8000 Dairy Ln., is hosting a plethora of safely-executed art classes for the people of Athens.

The Dairy Barn generally offers four sessions of classes or workshops, each eight weeks long, throughout the year. The winter session has begun, and spring sessions will begin in late March.

Many pottery classes have taken place this winter and will continue throughout the cold months. The Dairy Barn has made an effort to keep the classes socially distanced. 

“We traditionally offer a variety of classes to interested community members,” Kelly Shaw, ceramic studio manager, said. “We have shifted a little bit how we do that with the pandemic. Right now, we have been able to have some in-person classes that are a lot smaller, so that we can socially distance, wear masks and maintain a really safe environment to do hands-on learning. Those include the clay classes that we offer right now. That's intro to wheel throwing one, which covers all the fundamentals of working on a potter's wheel. We also offer a secondary class, called Pottery II, that kind of builds on those fundamentals and has a variety of different demonstrations and techniques to expand the forms that are made, as well as different additional techniques and decorative surfaces.”

In March, once spring pottery classes have begun, the fiber studio plans to host classes as well. These classes include crafting recyclable rugs, macramé wall hangings and a sewing Q&A. More information on how to register for these classes and others, like painting and drawing, can be found on its website.

Fiber studio classes will be taken from an online platform and all materials will be available from pick-up so participants can safely do the craft from their own home.

Alongside classes, the Dairy Barn hosts events. Currently, the Dairy Barn is hosting the “Women of Appalachia” fine art exhibit. Recently, the artists involved with the art exhibit or interested held a virtual artist talk.

“There's a lot of negatives, of course, about COVID, hugely, but some small positives have come out of it, such as making our events more accessible,” Holly Ittel, exhibitions director, said. “I think the virtual artist talk was an accessible event that we had, we also are posting exhibition tours on our website and YouTube page, and a digital exhibition is forthcoming.”

With the rest of the winter season having more art classes, including sewing and pottery, the Dairy Barn will soon be gearing up for the beginning of its Quilt National.

Classes will begin later in the year and will go all summer. Classes will be online, with an indigo dyeing class at the end of the summer. The workshops will be hosted by the artists involved with the Quilt National.

“I'd like to say that the quality of the classes online are the same,” Ann Judy, fiber studio manager, said. “You can ask just as many questions and get just as much instruction, and they feel safe. If you've not tried an online class, you need to try it. It's fun. There's still the camaraderie because all the people are still on — they're all on the screen. I know people are used to in-person classes but they should give it a try. Give it a try, and I think they'll really enjoy it.”