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Let’s make stuff.

In Star Studio, we spend a lot of time explaining to visitors that the drop-in art making space is not a “kids’ area” where parents sit while their children make artwork…it is a space for all of our visitors. The idea of the space is that any visitor (even grown-ups) can stop by and make something in response to the work on display. Many people take us up on the offer (you can see the results here), but often we meet adults who seem to think of the production of art as a child’s endeavor, something that you leave behind when you get a job and a mortgage.

In the years since Star Studio opened, countless visitors have declined the invitation to make something in the drop-in studio by saying “Oh no, I’m not creative.” Huh. I’ve never had a child say that, though.  Read the rest of this entry »


Show your work

The drop-in art making area of Star Studio starts each show looking pretty spare…white walls, gray cabinets, gray tables, overhead fluorescent lights…very clean and very empty. Once each show opens the same thing invariably happens…an impromptu visitor-generated installation begins to form in the space. Visitors stop in, make works of art, and ask to display them. We tape the work to the wall, or arrange it on the counters and watch the space change over the run of the show.

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of artwork that visitors make goes home with them, but a percentage always gets donated. Often visitors will make more than one piece, so that they have one to take home and one to add to the collection. We didn’t start out asking people to leave their work, but it always happened. Now, we build it into the consideration of the activities that will be offered in the space. It isn’t really like the formal artist-displaying-work model that is in evidence throughout the museum…the work is typically anonymous and individual pieces aren’t highlighted.

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Visual mixtape

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good mixtape. ( I still call them mixtapes, even though now it’s a mix cd, or an iTunes playlist, or even a muxtape). I love making them, I love thinking about the connections between each song that I select, and I love trying to figure out why someone else chose particular songs in a particular order.

Recently, Bob Boilen posted an entry to NPR’s excellent All Songs Considered Blog where he provided readers with the first song of a mixtape, and asked them to add responses in the comments section, with each new post adding a new song to the mix in response to the previous post. Brilliant!

Let’s try to do something similar with works of art. I’m selecting the first piece in a kind of virtual exhibition. You pick the next one, and post a comment with information about the work, a link to an image of it, and a description of your reasons for selecting it (could be formal similarity/difference to the previous piece, subject matter, some biographical information that links the artist to the previous work, whatever…) Remember that you are responding to the last piece added in the comments section (although some larger themes might develop) and provide some description of why you are adding a particular piece to this chain o’ art.

I’ve chosen a piece from the IMA’s collection as a starting point: Kenneth Noland’s Fall Blues 1961-64.

IMA Photo

It is a painting that I have warmed to over time, and one that I hope allows for a diverse set of responses. I’m interested to see where this game of curatorial telephone leads. Your turn…


Folding Instructions

Hi. I’m Phillip, and I work in the museum’s Education division. I’ll be posting periodically about exhibitions in Star Studio. Star Studio is a gallery where work by an artist is paired with an opportunity for visitors to respond to the exhibition by creating artwork of their own in a drop-in studio. Our current exhibition is Squares-Folds-Life: Contemporary Origami by Robert J. Lang. The artist is a former laser physicist who applies his knowledge of mathematics and science to the development of extremely complex and realistic origami sculptures. One of the works featured in the exhibition is Maine Lobster, opus 447.

Maine Lobster, opus 447

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About Phillip

Job Title: Manager of Gallery Education and Studio Programs

Interests: I make paintings and listen to music. I watch a lot of children’s television and build some pretty great block towers with my kids.

Favorite Movies: hmm…I’ll say O Brother Where Art Thou? and Dead Man would make the list. Mystery Train would be there, too.

Favorite Music: too much to list…right now my “recently played” list usually includes Wilco, Jens Lekman, Destroyer, Tom Waits, Great Lakes Swimmers, The Strugglers, The Clash, and a good chunk of the Labrador Records catalog.

Favorite Food: I like bread. I’m not sure that it is my favorite food, but it is up there.

Pets: One large cat named Murphy

Something you should know about me: My job title, interests, favorite movies, favorite music, favorite food, and the name of my pet cat. I’ll fill you in on the rest later.

Phillip has written 9 articles for us.