Sunday, June 23, 2013

Art-Devouring Families in Boston @ fpac ART WALK

Re-setting supplies after every user is super important,
and perfectly possible with a slow-and steady crowd.

'Was thrilled to return for another year of artmaking with families during Open Studios in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood in South Boston. For those who don't know, Fort Point is the country's second oldest artist-community in the US (can you guess the oldest?). While "prime real estate" gets torn from artists and converted from studios to condos, the place is still packed with working artists cranking out amazing work. I had the privilege of working with many of them during my time at the Children's Museum (and often daydreamed of joining them). Open Studios is a great time to get a map and check out as many studios as you can in one weekend. All free - lots of meeting, looking, playing, and buying! And artmaking. To make open studios even more family-friendly, a stop on the studio-hopping route was added that lets inspired kids of all ages actually make something. This year I featured a "mini print-studio" activity.

sliced foam 'noodles' + pipecleaners= sculpture!
Here's how my "pop-up studio" works.
I find out the number of people expected, age range, where I'll be set up, and a budget.
I scroll through my mental roladex of fabulous hands-on stuff for "drop-in" situations - short attention span, instant gratification, familiar materials, simple set-up, mixed ages including babies.
I have a genius idea that takes a classic and tweaks it for the specific event/theme.
I pack up my car.
I drive.
I unpack, transform the space with some big paper, tape, window markers, and colorful containers for supplies. Start up the art-making music and hope for weather that's not so rainy folks won't come out, but not so gorgeous everyone heads out of town.

I try to have several fairly self-sufficient and open-ended activities so that every kind of learner and expresser has something they dig. Big paper on the wall and on the floor with a basket of markers for an add-on mural, something sculptural, some novel material or tool, lots of paper (in different sizes and shapes) and crayons, an old-school craft (tissue paper flowers in this case), and a project I can walk people through that produces something to take home. I lean toward things people can try at home (in this case, making a printing plate from foam trays, and folding a one-sheet paper booklet)

(Crayola window markers are a good use of money - most kids have never used them, and in general, drawing on things you'd get in trouble for otherwise goes over really well. Cleans up with soapy water and paper towels. This is the second year my space featured a glass wall/large window. Seeing the kids working brings people in that otherwise would have missed us!)

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