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A Space for Play

Design rendering for Star Studio.

Design rendering for Star Studio.

I imagine the next week will feel very much like the countdown for a NASA space shuttle mission.  “T-7 days and counting.   Activate all personnel.  Review discussed layout.  Load in tables, chairs, and art supplies.  Backup and review tech systems.  Complete preliminary security and housekeeping inspections.  T-0.  Unlock the doors.”  Admittedly, this is both exciting and terrifying.  After nearly a year of planning and preparation, Star Studio will reopen to the public on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 11 am sharp with a very different vibe.

And so the story goes, on a cloudy day in March, a team of museum educators drafted a dreamy vision statement based on results gleaned from the 2012 IMA Family Study: “Inspired by the IMA’s collection, its resources, and related aspects of the visual arts, programs and activities in Star Studio encourage families to imagine, explore, create, share, and collaborate with art in new ways.”  We asked both members and non-members to test activities based on these five overarching themes during a set of focus groups.

In each section, adults are provided with the tools to teach fundamental art concepts such as color, line, shape, and texture, to children under the age of twelve in fun and innovative ways.  In the first section, Imagine, visitors are invited to think creatively about the art-making process.  Rules, instructions, and templates are absent.  Visitors are encouraged to create art from a set of traditional and non-traditional media, including paint, drawing materials, and clay, but also twist ties, bubble wrap, and packing peanuts.  The second section, Explore, includes a tactile table designed to stimulate the senses, promote creativity, and assist in the development of fine motor skills.  For the third experience, visitors are invited to Create.  They can use the iPad Free Draw Station to create their own works of art. Upon completion, visitors may email their drawings to themselves, friends, and family.  Another activity in this section invites young visitors to engage in imaginary play. By donning a construction hat and pretending to be construction workers kids help build R. Indiana City using an assortment of building blocks.  Share allows visitors to write or draw responses to a phrase on a large-scale chalkboard wall.  Additionally, Share includes an interactive photo booth, giving visitors the opportunity to capture images of the works they created, which are also projected on a wall.  And lastly, Collaborate encourages participants to socialize with other patrons by working together on a community art project.

Bonus!  A series of facilitated programs are now offered in the classroom on Wednesdays and weekends. For more information, please check out our calendar.


La Mia Casa e La Tua Casa

The lamp was rubbed, Genie popped out, my parents were given three wishes, and they asked for a child who, one day, would teach.  Fast forward thirty years.  I am an Arts Educator currently involved with the Perspectives Program.  And frankly…I Robert Indiana L-O-V-E it!

Robert Indiana, "Love," 1970.

The Perspectives After School Program offers students in Elementary, Middle and High School the opportunity to explore, imagine and create.  With a focus on art and language, students participate in a variety of writing exercises, presentation, art design and construction.

My students attend neighboring Elementary School #43.  Our teaching trio is made up of local artist Paula Scott-Frantz, elementary teacher Chanté Campbell, and me.  On Tuesdays we write.  On Thursdays we build.  And in between, I gush like a proud little Italian mamma.  Don’t be surprised if you see me rolling a flat of refrigerators through the lobby.  Look out William Lamson, I need to display my kids’ work.

William Lamson, "Divining Meterology," 2011.

Noah, engineering genius, built the first man-made habitat, a yacht complete with luxury accommodations for his extended family and all of the world’s animals to travel on during the “Great Flood.” This semester, the students, now appropriately titled, “Project Managers for Art, Nature and Design”, completed their first challenge.  We asked our young PMs to build a man-made habitat for birds, using natural materials: alpaca wool, rocks, and sticks.

Our pods, now installed in 100 Acres, are located just outside of the Visitor Pavilion for our bird watching fanatics.  Over the course of the semester, these mini PMs will continue to photograph their aviary habitats to track and evaluate changes made to the original design.  Our next challenge is map making.  Sorry to be so vague, but hook, line and sinker.



The “A’s” of IMA

A year ago, I was asked to serve as the IMA’s Accessibility Taskforce Chair, which included memorizing abbreviations UD, ADA, ASL, ALD and AD. The truth of the matter is, my previous experience was limited to working with cognitive disabilities. Thus, the adoption of the famous phrase coined by actor Bill Murray in What About Bob as a way of approaching the practice of access. “Baby step onto the elevator…baby step into the elevator…I’m in the elevator”. In March 2010, members of the Accessibility Taskforce partnered with the Museum’s Education and Public Programs departments to make a concerted effort to apply universal design (UD) to both the IMA environment and its programs.

* Architecture. On March 1st, the IMA opened a Nursing Mother’s Room. This private facility is equipped with comfortable seating, electrical outlets, a changing station, and sanitizer. It is also conveniently located next door to a private restroom with sink on the ground level of the museum.

* Audio Description. On March 5th, the IMA welcomed the Joe Goode Performance Group. The San Francisco-based dance group used puppeteering, narrative, sound and movement to perform the tale of Wonderboy, a superhero isolated by his gift of sensitivity. The IMA commissioned artist Dante Ventresca of Theater of Inclusion to write and perform an audio description for a universal audience via assistive listening devices.

* Awareness. On March 6th, the IMA hosted the annual Ms. Wheelchair Indiana program that named Joey Alise Murello the organization’s new public advocate. Over the next year, Joey will focus on the abilities of those with disabilities to help remove the perception that they are less capable.

Joey Alise Murello

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About Jennifer Mayhill

Job Title: Coordinator of Education Programs

Jennifer has written 3 articles for us.