Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Collage Nature

Tory's Special Sunday: Our Fine Feathered Friends

Recently the Art Studio’s J-Term Intern, Tory Fiske, a senior at UMass Amherst, designed a Special Sunday project for museum guests.  She planned the event, sorted and prepared the materials, and introduced visitors to the project throughout the day.  The following is her description of the day.

Inspired by the current exhibition A Friend Among Us: The Art of Brinton Turkle, I wanted to develop a project that mirrored the theme of strong friendships between humans and animals, which Turkle demonstrates within his picture book Thy Friend, Obadiah. Also, as this book is set in a beach town, and I am from Cape Cod, I knew instantly that I wanted to incorporate found materials, such as seashells, that represented a setting I felt a personal connection to.

When beginning my project, my first idea was to provide visitors with a base of cardboard and a seashell of their choice to create different types of animals, ranging from their friendly pets to fantastical beasts. I initially pulled out collage papers, drawing tools, wooden materials, feathers, glue, and tape to experiment with and create my first example, the bird.

I wanted to limit the amount of materials to increase creative problem-solving. However, when initially trying out all of the selected materials, in addition to the bases, I found that too many material options made the process too overwhelming. I decided to reduce the options to include only wooden materials and collage paper or wooden materials and drawing tools. I tested both options out and the collage paper, as seen in the example to the left, was finally the winner! These materials appealed to me because as I experimented, I felt encouraged to try all of the different ways I could create scenes and shapes using only the papers.    

The next step of the process was to select various picture books that represented themes of friendship and/or the beach. Using the Reading Library at The Carle, I got lost in all of the options I could choose from. Some of the books that narrowed down to my final selections were Lissy’s Friends by Grace Lin, One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, and Sea and Rex by Molly Idle. Finally, it was time for Special Sunday.

On the day of, I got to witness people of all ages experiment with different materials to create their favorite animals. The final products ranged from representational forms to those that were more abstract. It was great to walk around and ask visitors about the different ways they explored with the provided tools to create such unique, personal artworks.

The most rewarding part of the day was to see families work together when creating their animals. It seemed that kids and adults alike enjoyed collectively helping one another. They spent a lot of time creating their artworks, which they happily showed me upon completion. When going around the room to peek at what everybody was designing, I asked kids if they could explain to me their artworks. At times I was responded to with silence, but adults explained how this indicated that the kids were very focused on their projects.

Overall, this project allowed visitors to experiment with natural materials when creating artwork to represent the strong love and bond that they have for myriad types of animals. During this intergenerational activity, families happily discussed the different ways they could make their ideas come alive. It is not a typical Sunday that one gets to see lizards, unicorns, rhinos, crabs, and gingerbread men all in one room! It was such an enjoyable and rewarding experience for me to create this project and watch others participate.

Finally, I want to thank all who helped me during this process and participated. I hope you all enjoyed it just as much as I did!