October 13: A visit to the museum

October 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Well, today there was no time to make art. We have friends staying with us that we are having great conversations with, and there is no reason to break that up for making art. Conversation is creative, no?

But we did visit the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, which was full of interesting art. This is the exhibit that we saw. In particular, we were exposed to the music of a local artist, Perfume Genius, which was eerie and beautiful. So this song is my offering on the blog for today:


August 23: Inspired by the museum

August 24, 2012 § 1 Comment

Today we went to the Seattle Art Museum. While I maintain that my older child is difficult at times, he is also a great art lover. He’s been asking for weeks to go to the museum (about an hour’s drive away), and so today we finally did. We spent four hours there! With two kids! How cool is that? Instead of the usual route from the living room to bedroom to change O’s diaper, I got to walk from a fabulous kids area, through awesome galleries, by the installation of Jenny Holzer’s Inflammatory Essays, for that diaper change. Twice. I love Jenny Holzer. O. blissfully slept through the whole outing, and J. was perfectly happy to follow us through the galleries and ask questions about the art. The Universe provides.

In addition, it’s always neat when you can make art with your kids based on something that you saw at a museum. Today we saw a spectacular Australian Aboriginal art exhibit (website here). Many of the paintings were complex maps, where certain shapes and symbols always represented the same things: U shapes represented people, lines represented people’s tracks, arrows represented emus’ tracks, concentric circles represented campsites, etc. Especially impressive, to me, were the paintings of women’s ceremonies.

In any case, tonight D, J, and I attempted to create something similar. Or rather, to create something inspired by the exhibit. In our effort, storytelling was at least as important as the visual results. Guess whose attempt was the most successful? J’s of course.

D’s is bottom left. I think he just had fun creating colorful shapes. Mine is bottom right, inspired probably as much by graph theory as by the art. The dots were supposed to be women, and the lines represented the complex bonds existing among them. With two hearts in the middle. I was feeling good about the world for a change. The other two are J’s. The top one, he said, was a ceremony with painted statues to present to the gods. The bottom one was a map: the bottom left yellow dots are Hawaii and Easter Islands. The top yellow/blue squares are Tacoma, the green squares above Tacoma are the Cascades, and there is a pond to the right. Under the pond is China, to the right of China (the heart) is Egypt, and on the bottom, from left to right, Japan, Greece, and Belgrade. Fascinating. I think this is all the geography he knows, and I love how it’s all there in one magical, impossible landscape. A lot like the art we saw today.

July 27: Museums

July 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

from the Mariani family exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum


Having dropped our budding scientist off at the science camp this morning, D. and I (with O. in a baby carrier) spent some time at the Tacoma Art Museum. They have an incredible show right now: Lodge by Marie Watt, a practitioner of  “social sculpture,” which “holds that art should be participatory and has the power to effect transformations in the self and society.” She uses blankets and felt to tell stories. The centerpiece of the exhibit is Engine, a felt cave in which American Indian storytellers, projected as holograms (a nod to Star Wars), tell stories of their peoples. Here is her website and here are some exhibit pictures:

The blankets, some or all, I am not sure, were donated. Donors included stories about the blankets, which are attached to them. One of the blankets was donated by a WWII prison camp survivor; the blanket was given to him in the camp. The whole exhibit is moving and powerful, but I don’t need to elaborate on that; that’s not the purpose of this blog.

The great thing about the Tacoma Art Museum is the art resource room on the second floor, where you can make art inspired by the exhibits using the toolkits provided by the museum. Being impressed and moved by Watt’s work, I chose Stitches, Stories, Shelter. Here is the visual story of the five-minute creative act that came out of that:

the toolkit

the instructions

my contribution

(Maybe what I meant to say with my fabric patch is this: that in parenting you have to be tough, soft, and fierce all at the same time. Maybe I didn’t mean to say anything at all, but liked the fabrics and the colors.)

the entire display

(You may also notice D’s blue fabric bike in the middle. After all, an image of a bike says a lot about who he is and what he does.)

other people’s work

By the time I was done, it was time to pick up our little camper. We all headed to the Museum of Glass, where they just happened to have a silly puppet-making activity. We cut out heads, bodies, and legs from different magazines and put them together using hole punches and brackets. Results? Here:





What a great day. I am grateful for museums, their participatory nature,and for the fact that they encourage creativity. This is not what museums are like where I grew up.







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